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Somewhere to go

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WORLD Radio - Somewhere to go

Adult day service centers give people who need care a place to enjoy community


Clients at DayStay work on a puzzle together. Photo by Mary Muncy

PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, January 10th, 2024. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Paul Butler.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

This week on Concurrently: The News Coach Podcast, co-hosts Kelsey Reed and Jonathan Boes welcome the editor of God’s Big WORLD, Amy Auten. God’s Big WORLD is for our very youngest readers. This week, they talk about ways that parents can cultivate literacy and liturgy.

Here’s a preview:

AMY AUTEN: A word that keeps coming back was intention. For example, there's a default after dinner, we all go to our phones, because we're tired. We'll often say to each other, let's give each other 30 minutes to relax and then we'll regroup and often that 30 minutes goes to an hour and then they have to take showers and I've missed, I've missed a window. If I want them to linger with me, I have to be intentional. So last night, we sat on the sofa, and we read aloud. I instigated that and it worked out sometimes that doesn't work out. You know, sometimes people don't really want to do it. You have to kind of cajole or bring cookies into the mix.

KELSEY REED: If you give a teen a cookie, they'll, they'll want to sit and read a book with you.

JONATHAN BOES: That's really the whole thing. Just involve food and the whole routine thing falls into place.

AUTEN: It's true though, there's something to breaking bread. Like if I, if I read aloud a book while we're still at the dinner table. They stay at the table. And again know your know your kids know your audience because my kids love books. I love accents. They've done theater and so this is a natural, organic fit. Other things might be late at night, go look at the stars together. This is an excellent time here even though it's cold. So just know your audience, know your kiddos, be intentional. Even if it's only only 10 minutes, that 10 minutes matters.

You can hear the entire episode of Concurrently today wherever you get your podcasts. And find out more at concurrentlypodcast.com.

BUTLER: Coming next on The World and Everything in It: bearing one another’s burdens.

As costs rise for elder care, more Americans are once again choosing to age at home, but that can put a strain on caregivers.

So some people are trying to fill that need by offering adult daycare. These services provide an option for caregivers to have a much-needed break while their loved ones still get quality care.

EICHER: WORLD Radio’s Mary Muncy paid a visit to one of these centers and she has our story.

AUDIO: [COFFEE POT STARTING]

MARY MUNCY: It’s 9 a.m. and DayStay director Kathy Long starts the first pot of decaf coffee. DayStay is a senior social club for older adults who need someone to watch out for them for a few hours while their caregivers do other things.

LONG: You doing okay this morning?

CLIENT: Yes.

LONG: Good.

The daycare is in the basement of Hominy Baptist Church in Candler, North Carolina. There are two rooms. The main room has a long table for lunch and an open area for games. The side room has several tables and chairs sitting around. That’s where the puzzling happens.

LONG: We come in in the mornings, we like to work on puzzles, and they have coffee and pastries.

Before becoming a caregiver, Long was a nurse for 40 years, mostly working with geriatric patients.

When Long started working with DayStay, she was there just a few days a week. But last year, they asked her to be the director.

LONG: I enjoy just making them feel safe and happy and enjoying the fact that they're here for the day. And so I've just stayed because it's where my heart is.

Long knows firsthand how hard caregiving can be.

LONG: My dad had Alzheimer's, and I helped care for him. For 10 years he had it. And then there was nothing. There were no programs like this. There wasn’t anywhere you could take them.

A 2016 study in the Journals of Gerontology found that adult day services can help lower stress hormones in chronically stressed caregivers. Other earlier studies show similar results and caregivers are noticing.

The National Adult Day Services Association says there are about 7,500 adult day service centers in the U.S. and that number is rising.

But Long isn’t just trying to help caregivers. She wants to give her participants a chance to socialize, exercise, and even volunteer.

LONG: If they're not here, they sit in front of the TV, or they sleep. So they’re not very active at home if they're not here. And a lot of times family just doesn't know what to do.

So Long and her team take time to observe their clients—figure out what they can and can’t do and what brings them joy.

LONG: It doesn't take you long to realize, okay, well, Bill can do this, or Fred can do that or Jane can do this. And then we'll focus on things that they’re good at, and they enjoy it and makes them feel good and important.

But it’s not always easy to help clients find something they enjoy or even to keep them in the building.

LONG: I have had participants who are very exit-seeking. They don't want to sit, they don't want to stay and they're constantly trying to get out.

One time she stopped to take a phone call and one of her participants slipped out the door before she turned back around. They found him walking down the road outside the church.

LONG: We go, you got to come back with us. You can't be out here. It's not safe.

Most of her clients aren’t that exit-seeking, or they’re relatively easy to redirect. Instead, she’s usually trying to come up with creative ways to get her clients moving—not the other way around.

One of her favorite ways to do that is noodle ball.

AUDIO: Noodle ball? I love that game. Woo.

Long and two staff members set out 11 chairs in a circle. As clients take a seat, they select a halved pool noodle.

AUDIO: This is your lucky noodle?

Long then throws a balloon into the middle of the circle and the game begins. The goal is to try to keep it off the floor, though some are just trying to bean the staff members instead.

AUDIO: [Laughter]

Long believes laughter is some of the best medicine—topped only by feeling useful. So, at 11:30 Long announces lunch and most of them move to the table.

But a few get up and start putting ice into cups and pouring drinks. They help throughout the meal and afterward they start picking up trash and wiping down tables. Long says that does more than just help the process go smoothly.

LONG: That also helps make them feel important and needed. A lot of times they don't feel needed anymore.

Long has seen firsthand how losing a sense of purpose often precedes a fast downward spiral and she knows how hard that is on caregivers.

LONG: It's stressful for families. And when you have the care 24/7 It's really stressful. So this helps take some of that stress off.

Long tries to put some of their responsibility on her shoulders—trying to help her clients age with purpose, while giving caregivers space to breathe so they can enjoy their time with their loved ones when they come back.

Long says her job isn’t really work. It’s just trying to help some people laugh for a few hours.

AUDIO: [Laughter from noodle ball]

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Mary Muncy in Candler, North Carolina.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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