As a full-time caregiver for her husband, Sandra Laughlin doesn’t get much time to herself.
Since discovering OSF Senior World, an adult day services program in Peoria, Laughlin is now able to run errands and do other chores, knowing that her husband is being cared for by professionals trained in handling people with dementia.
“He goes to Senior World twice a week for four hours at a time, which gives me a little bit of freedom to go to the grocery store and run errands. It makes a big difference,” Sandra said.
Jim Laughlin was diagnosed about five years ago with Pick’s Disease, a rare type of age-related dementia that affects the frontal lobes of the brain and causes speech problems like aphasia. “I think it helps him a lot to interact with other people there. They do a lot with them and they’re very good to him,” Sandra said.
Like Jim, the majority of Senior World’s clients have some type of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, while others might be suffering the effects of a stroke or other traumatic brain injury, according to program director Jackie Bowers.
A recent open house at the facility at 719 N. William Kumpf Blvd. in downtown Peoria showed off a recent expansion and remodel that will allow for more people to use the service.
“(The expansion) was needed because we’re seeing more spouses or adult children who want to keep their loved ones home longer because they’re still benefiting from being home and interacting with the family, but their care level is increasing,” Bowers said.
The 1,500-square-foot expansion includes the addition of two restrooms that allow for easier wheelchair transfers and accommodations, a new area away from the main activity to allow respite for clients who need a quieter setting and a larger nursing station to provide more care when needed.
“We’re averaging 40 to 45 clients here a day, and this will allow us to accommodate up to the mid 50s,” Bowers said.
The Peoria facility was originally opened in 1981 by the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. IPMR opened a second Senior World facility at 730 W. Jefferson St. in Morton in 2013. OSF HealthCare acquired both facilities in a merger with IPMR three years ago, Bowers said.
The Peoria and Morton facilities are the only adult day service facilities contracted with the Illinois Department on Aging in the Peoria area. “The next nearest ones to us are in Bloomington and Galesburg,” Bowers said.
OSF Senior World currently employs about 20 staff members between the two centers who are trained in the areas of gerontology, social work, nursing, recreational activities, certified nursing assistants and certified food managers.
“We’re here for patient engagement,” Bowers said. “The type of activities we do are across the board because we want to use all the different functions of the brain.”
At any given time, clients might be participating in exercise, arts and crafts, math or word scrambles and cards or other games. The program’s stated goals include increasing social interaction opportunities; maintaining and improving communication skills; boosting self-esteem and self-confidence; and maintaining and improving physical health, mobility and nutritional status.
“The activities that go on all day throughout the day are designed so we’re using all the skills that remain with the individuals and are also based on their previous preference of activities that they have enjoyed in life,” Bowers said.
“And they really do develop friendships with each other. Even the ones who are cognitively impaired smile and look out for each other,” she added.
Visitors to last week’s open house enjoyed viewing about 100 pieces of art created by Senior World clients through the Opening Minds Through Art program, which is a grant facilitated by the SIU School of Medicine.
“We sent our staff to a week-long training for the program, which uses multi-media art to help individuals with dementia. They do things such as painting tiles or decorating bottles or just doing freehand abstract art,” Bowers said. “You might have an individual that is pretty cognitively impaired and then you put a paintbrush in their hand, and it’s amazing what they can do.
Senior World staff also hosts caregiver support group meetings and offers caregiver education programs throughout the year.
The facility’s services are primarily for those older than 65 who can’t be left alone, but younger people are eligible if they have certain disabilities.
The center serves Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties and also has clients from as far away as Marshall, Stark, Fulton and Mason counties, Bowers said.
Currently, about 25 percent of clients come to the center five days a week with the majority coming two or three times a week. The Peoria facility is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., while the Morton center’s hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cost to attend is about $9 per hour, but financing is available through several sources, including Medicare, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Central Illinois Agency on Aging, Bowers said.
“We make all the transportation arrangements, too,” she added. “Our goal is to take as much off of the caregivers’ shoulders as we can, because they’re already pretty stressed.”
At times Senior World does have a waiting list, but there are currently openings at both the Peoria and Morton facilities, Bowers said. Interested caregivers should contact her to arrange a tour to make sure it will be a good fit with their loved one. After obtaining a medical history, a trial date is then set up at no cost, she added.
Sandra Laughlin said she was nervous at first to leave her husband at Senior World because she didn’t know what to expect. “But on the very first day, they made me feel comfortable,” she said. “The staff is all so friendly, and you know they’re going to be taken care of.”
For more information, call Jackie Bowers at 309-495-4530 or visit www.osfhealthcare.org/services/adult-day.