Second Wind: Lessons in unlearning about age
The second part of life can be spent unlearning what you learned in the first part. And the older you grow, the more you have to unlearn about one particular subject – what it means to be older. For me, the most recent lesson in unlearning about age was focused on adult day care, which I stereotyped as just baby-sitting for older adults in need.
Unless your sitter provides live musical entertainment, an exercise room with personnel at the ready to guide you through the motions – all this with an excellent hot lunch and an atmosphere that is just as warm as the food. These services are offered by the Lutz Center in Nevada City along with an outstanding list of other helpful activities that no sitter could ever provide for someone whose disabilities call out for a strong helping hand.
The Lutz Center offers qualified medical supervision – RN on staff – plus counseling, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Then there are exercise classes and fall prevention activities. And of course, there’s play time and relaxation – games and someone to play them with, a wide range of reading material, a large video library – all with the company of peers (if you want) along with a chance to be by yourself (when needed) – either outside on the safe patio or inside in one of the quiet rooms.
Who goes there?
Clients range from 18 to over 100. They are people who struggle with various issues – stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s, developmental delay, Alzheimer’s disease and brain injuries.
All clients require some help in getting through the day and they get it at Lutz Center where they are never left unsupervised. (The supervision is the super kind – not the stiff-necked oversight of someone like Nurse Ratched.)
Who takes care of the family caregiver?
The Lutz Center does. When a caregiver enrolls a loved one at the Center, that caregiver finally gets a respite. As someone who has taken care of a son with schizophrenia, I can testify that civilians in the helping trenches need time off – rest from a serious obligation. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting your hair cut or going to the grocery store without worrying about a family member in tow.
And if a caregiver doesn’t seek help, she or he is more likely to burn out. Then more drastic options than a simple day care program may be called for. So consider that adult day care may be a way to keep a family member living at home instead of in a 24-hour live-away facility.
The Lutz Center also offers a caregiver support group that talks about such issues as dealing with incontinence, depression, anger management, legal considerations, financial planning, how to get other family members involved, and yes, how to take care of yourself – which is another way of saying: Put on your own oxygen mask or you won’t be able to take care of others.
Words for the wise
If you think you might need help for your family, call the Lutz Center at 530-265-0605 to talk it over. They offer a free in-home assessment, and they have room for just 12 more clients, not yet up to full capacity because many people don’t know the Lutz Center exists or they stereotype it as just a babysitting service.
Or they think nobody can provide the care they can provide at home. Or they think they are failing their loved one if they send their mom or mate off to day care. A visit to the Center and a talk with other caregivers who have enrolled their relatives will go a long way to relieve these common worries.
Another perceived barrier is money, but Medi-Cal covers the majority of the clients and some others are covered by long-term-care insurance, veteran’s benefits and respite funds from other caring agencies. However, the Center could absolutely use donations right now. Tax-deductible gifts can be sent to Lutz Center Adult Day Services, 138 New Mohawk Rd. Ste B1, Nevada City, CA 95959.
If you want to know more, tune in to KVMR-FM 89.5 on Wednesday, July 18th at 1 p.m. Co-Directors Francine Novak and Colleen Bond will talk about the program.
So what’s the bottom line about the Lutz Center? Well, when evaluating services, I ask myself: Would I go there?
Absolutely. And I’d begin by calling 530-265-0605.
Mel Walsh is a local gal with a degree in gerontology, the study of older people, but she has learned far more about ageing from life itself. Take her Web site out for a spin, http://www.melwalsh.com. Buy her book, “Hot Granny,” and enjoy the giggles.
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