Days of Our Lives

An alternative to long-term care, Page Robbins Adult Day Care Center fills a growing niche.



photograph by Kennosuke | Dreamstime

It’s a rainy fall morning but sunny smiles and autumn colors brighten the day at this busy care center where groups of seniors work —  or play — at various tasks. In one circle, laughing women keep a ball aloft, strengthening their upper body mobility. In another room several seniors sit at a table as a storyteller recalls famous people from the past. Still others apply themselves to art projects, or simply sit and talk.

Welcome to Page Robbins Adult Day Care Center, which opened in Collierville in 1995 and is one of a handful of such facilities in Shelby County. A few of the others include Apple Grove Adult Day Care Center, Ave Maria Adult Day Care Home, and Alzheimer’s Day Services of Memphis, Inc. As the aging population skyrockets, and the number of people with dementia increases each year, adult day services (ADS) have become a key player in the business of elder care. These ADS facilities, considered an alternative to institutionalized care, serve people with memory loss and physical impairments while giving family members a break from daily caregiving demands.

“The participants here cover the whole spectrum of cognitive and physical abilities,” says Executive Director Herbie Krisle. “Up until three years ago we were a dementia-specific care facility. But then we started accepting people with minimal memory loss.” The change, she explains, was to encourage families to bring loved ones to day care early in the disease process.

“They’d say, ‘My mother, father, husband — they are not ready for a place like this,’ and they’d wait till the person was significantly impaired. We wanted them to see that their loved one would be fine here and not have to undergo such a difficult transition.”

Page Robbins also welcomes individuals with no cognitive deficiencies but who are at risk for being isolated. Says Krisle. “Isolation in the elderly brings on a host of issues — from sleeping all the time to depression. Plus, as they become more physically frail, they are at risk for falling.”    

Participants — who currently range in age from 57 to 98 — are divided into groups based on their level of function, from very high to low. “We intersperse some at the lower level in with the moderately functioning,” says Krisle, “because we believe, and we see evidence in our activity group, that when people are challenged by others to engage, they generally respond.”

The facility is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and three meals are offered. Though not a medical facility, Page Robbins employs a registered nurse, and several nurse assistants serve participants at a ratio of one assistant to five participants. In the activity areas, individuals may create artwork, often using leaves and flowers from the lovely garden on the grounds; others might take part in music or exercise programs. The therapy dog named Daisy — half golden retriever, half standard poodle — brings smiles to many faces.

In the past 15 months, Krisle says enrollment here has doubled. Part of that increase may be a result of advertising, she says, while other factors include more stringent requirements for nursing home admissions. “As more families seek care through ADS facilities for their family members,” says Krisle, “one of our goals is to reduce the amount of caregiver stress during the day.” She adds that support groups, educational sessions, and suggestions from social workers are also available to families.

Page Robbins has responded to the increasing numbers of participants by adding and training more staff. Stats from the Alzheimer’s Association indicate demand will grow: By 2025, those age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s are estimated to reach 7.1 million, a 40 percent increase from the 5 million currently affected.

Change is seldom easy, and many who are brought to an ADS facility “believe it’s really a nursing home in disguise,” says Krisle. “But usually around the fourth visit, individuals will realize they’re not being left here against their will. One woman thought it was like a sorority and she wanted to be sure she was voted in. They make friends, and at some point in that little window of time, they hardly even say good-bye to the one who brought them.”

 

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