Category: Community Services

Quality adult day care hits a homerun

Blog posts come in all shapes and sizes … sometimes they are personal reflections or ruminations on various topics … at other times, they tell a story, often to demonstrate a key point … at other times, they express heartfelt appreciation for how someone has been helped … as in this recent example:

To the staff of Diakon Adult Day Services at Ravenwood:

I wanted to send you a thank you on behalf of my family for the wonderful care you provide for my father, Robert “Bob” Wilson. I wonder if you know just how much the work you do is valued and how important it is to so many? Daily you have a positive impact on so many lives.

You never knew my father the way I did. Since his stroke, a little more than four years ago, he has been different. In addition to leaving him physically challenged, the stroke, even more cruelly, left him with intellectual frailties as well. I’m including these photos so you can see the man I know as Dad.

Jenn Wilson dad photos

Originally it was difficult to accept that he was so different now. I remember quite clearly the day my mom said that Dad was going to start attending an adult day care service program at Ravenwood several times a week, so that she could have a break and my dad could have some socializing. When I saw him next, my father showed me the craft he had made that first day. It was a painting, I think, with some additional stickers and sparkly confetti. Not bad for a man with one good arm, he jested, even though he had help with some of the stickers, he said. He was so proud of his work and I ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaahed’ and told him how wonderful it was, and Mom put his craft up on the refrigerator.

Driving home that night, I cried remembering how he used to be before the stroke. A kind, strong and extremely intelligent man who ran a successful law firm and provided a good life for himself and my mother. And now he was going to adult day services and making crafts with stickers and sparkly confetti. This seemed so cruel, I thought, the entire process of aging and the lasting results of illness and what it does to your loved ones.

My dad has been attending Diakon Adult Day Services at Ravenwood for a few years now. As time has progressed, he has brought home many more crafts. I recall a really cool Halloween spider made from a cute tiny pumpkin and black pipe cleaners from last year. It sat on the TV stand until the poor little thing rotted. And even now there is a very good imitation of a watermelon slice dad painted recently hanging from the fence on their little patio.

But I think it’s important that you know that every time I visit and ask him about his day his face lights up talking about the crafts, or bingo, or singing, or one of the wonderful outings you take him on. In fact, tomorrow [program staff] are taking him to see a ball game at Municipal Stadium and he is very excited and happy about this; he talked about it all weekend long.

I have never met any of you, but over the last few years I have heard about you and have come to know you through my Dad. You are the caring people who help him with crafts, or take him to the bathroom or help him with his lunch. There are so many things that you do every day there for him that you probably think nothing about, but that mean so much to him and to us, his family.

You are the people who bring him joy and happiness. Your work is tremendously important and extremely meaningful and we appreciate you very much … Know that we are grateful for each of you, and sincerely thank you all for your kindness to my Dad.

—Jennifer Wilson

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Making learning a part of really living

When you’ve spent most of your life learning to make a living, how do you make the transition to learning for the simple sake of learning?


For many people older than 50, that’s a familiar situation.


As a result of the learning we’ve done so far, we have been able to provide for our families. But, after a certain age at which we no longer have to worry as much about making a living, or our nest is empty, we may face the question: What do we do now?


Some people will say retirement is about just enjoying life. After all, you’ve earned it!


For others, however, shifting gears is not as easy. We’ve been too busy and feel the need to remain that way.


So how do you begin? How best can you experience new things, meet new friends, try a hobby we have been meaning to for years or, even, share a talent we’ve gained over the years?


That’s the focus of an innovative program I oversee for Diakon Community Services. It’s called Diakon Living & Learning After 50.


For nearly a decade now, the program has offered classes in everything under the sun at sites throughout Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania—workshops on yoga, painting, writing, antiquing, eBay, dancing, scuba diving, learning a new language and a host of other topics.


Our class atmosphere is informal and fun, allowing people to mingle while still focused on learning or teaching.


During this time, I have seen many friendships blossom as a result of attending weekly exercise classes; witnessed participants create a support system or reunite with old friends or co-workers.


I have watched wondrous transformations, as someone stares at a blank canvas, doubt eventually overtaken by a special spark as the person creates a beautiful painting, saying “that’s something I’ve wanted to try for years.”


With this need in mind, we develop our courses, classes, and special events to appeal to as broad a range of interests and abilities as possible.


And all geared to making certain that learning remains a pivotal part of life, even if the focus is more on fun than making a living!

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Reaching rural communities a prime goal of PrimeTime Health

For older adults who live in rural areas—such as Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and who prefer not to venture far from home, PrimeTime Health offers classes in a number of community settings, reaching people where they live.

For example, our “Healthy Steps” classes take place in a variety of community settings, including senior community centers and even department stores. As a result, I have seen so many people benefit from this program designed to reduce people’s chances of falling. Developed by the state Department of Aging and the University of California at Berkley, the program is a proven way to reduce this risk, with the two-session series including a personal risk assessment, a balance evaluation, exercise and a home safety checklist. Think of the significant impact a serious fall can have on a frail older adult—and you can easily visualize how important such a program can be!

In our area, we also offer a “Healthier Living with Diabetes” class that runs for six weeks. Brand-new to Schuylkill County in 2016, the program, which was developed by Stanford University, covers topics such as managing symptoms, exercise, medication and working with health-care providers.

Living, learning at lake brings reward, award

Living just down the road from Sweet Arrow Lake County Park in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, has been a blessing in so many ways.

The location has made it convenient for my husband, Barry, and me to take advantage of all the park has to offer. The facilities have served as gathering places for family reunions, a way to fish and kayak with friends, and geocaching—an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use a GPS mobile device or other navigational methods to hide and then seek containers—with our children.

The park also has served as a venue for learning how to plant a garden, worshiping at sunrise on Easter Sunday, and just taking a walk to the waterfalls with my Mom.