Adult day program is a friendly, home-like place

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

Gloria Bono helped Clarence "Turk" Turley put together a puzzle Oct. 23 at the Cardinal Ritter Senior Services Adult Day Program. A few other friends who also attend the program pitched in as well.

Turley said he likes the people at the center and is unable to choose his favorite activity. "I like it all," he said.

Another participant, Art Jackson, praised Cheryl Woodruff, coordinator of caregiver support service at Cardinal Ritter, for her leadership and organizational abilities. "She's an inspiration," Jackson said. "When I come here, I feel a lot better than when I don't."

At age 85, he said with a chuckle, he doesn't have any pressing matters. At the center, his favorite things to do are to listen to music, especially entertainers who visit. He also enjoys conversation and appreciates that the staff and others want to hear what he has to say. He talked about working in jails as a corrections officer before retiring and about the good grades his daughters received in school. "I looked forward to the Straight-A Cardinals tickets," he added with a smile.

The Cardinal Ritter Adult Day Program provides respite for caregivers of the elderly and care, supervision and socialization for adults who have mental or physical impairments. The program is located in Shrewsbury at Holy Infant Apartments on the Cardinal Carberry campus.

Adult day programs such as Cardinal Ritter's provide participants with recreation, lunch and snacks, transportation to and from the center, medical care by an on-site nurse and personal care, such as showers upon request. The senior adults return home to their families in the evening.

Dorothy Gipson, a program assistant who has worked there 18 years, said the seniors "always make my day." She relates well with them and enjoys hearing the stories they tell about their lives.

The program's facilities recently underwent a face lift to turn it into more of a home-like setting. A partitioned living-room-type area enables small-group activities to occur simultaneously. More secure doors were an addition as well.

The smaller groups allow participants to choose activities they enjoy most and to get to know each other better, Woodruff said. "We want them to feel like they are at home. They can get up and do the things they want to do. They watch TV when they want, read when they want and all that."

Many participants have Alzheimer's or are in the early or middle stages of dementia, Woodruff said. The caregivers "can go to work, go take care of their own needs, sleep if they've been up all night with their family members."

A social worker is available through the center to help families deal with the difficulties of caring for their loved one, and a support group sanctioned by the Alzheimer's Association of St. Louis is facilitated by the program.

Recently the daughter of one of the participants wrote to the center to thank them for their efforts. "Today I had tears of joy when I came to pick up Dad from CRSS Adult Day Program," she wrote. "He was talking with another client while they were putting together a puzzle. This may not seem like a big deal but it was quite a milestone for Dad."

She explained that helping him feel so comfortable and at home "brings so much relief to our family. I know it is the concern and compassion the staff shows him that is bringing him out of his shell. I go to work with peace of mind knowing he is safe and well cared for by your staff."

She stated that the staff takes care of people who are in need of special care "with such ease and love."

To learn more about the Cardinal Ritter Adult Day Program, call (314) 962-7501. 

>> Cardinal Ritter Senior Services

Cardinal Ritter Senior Services is the largest agency of Catholic Charities. It provides services to elderly people in St. Louis City and St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson, Franklin and Warren counties. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life for older people through comprehensive social, health and senior services.

The agency specializes in "creative care for the elderly," with programs not only for older adults but also for employees who take care of its residents and other older adults, the families of residents and others who seek help and the communities Cardinal Ritter serves.

Cardinal Ritter assists people to remain in their homes but also provides assisted living, skilled nursing care, affordable low-income and mid-income housing and more. Its programs provide volunteer opportunities, care for children who need help from a grandparent-aged adult through the Foster Grandparent Program, adult day programs, a homemaker program and more.

For information, call (314) 961-8000 or visit www.cardinalritterseniorservices.org. 

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