It was standing room only at the El Dorado Hills’ Senior Day Care’s grand opening last Thursday afternoon, the event marking a win-win not only for El Dorado Hills’ seniors and caregivers, but for the whole county.
District 1 Supervisor Ron Mikulaco opened the ribbon cutting ceremony by acknowledging key players, including El Dorado Hills Community Services District Director Terry Crumpley, El Dorado Hills Fire Board member Jim Hartley, Commission on Aging members, Wanda Demarest and others from El Dorado County Health and Human Services. El Dorado County Chief Administration Officer Terri Daly, District 3 Supervisor Brian Veerkamp and District 4 Ron Briggs also attended and were thanked for their support.
“El Dorado County is one of the best places for the senior population,” said El Dorado County Health and Human Services Director Don Ashton. “My grandfather had Alzheimer’s and if he’d had a place like this the first five years it would’ve changed his life and my grandmother’s.”
Ashton’s words emphasized the program’s dual purpose.
It provides care and activities for adults needing supervision during the daytime hours, which can keep them in their homes longer by delaying institutionalized care. “Most of our clients are older adults whose quality of life has been compromised by a chronic health condition such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia,” said Senior Day Care program supervisor Demarest. “Our goal is to encourage participants to function at their maximum level of independence. The atmosphere and the services at our center provide members with the respect and care they deserve, while also emphasizing a positive self-image and the possibility of improvement through continued stimulation of body, mind and spirit.”
Just as critical, senior day care also provides respite to full-time caregivers, usually spouses or adult children.
“It’s noble and needed to be a caregiver,” said Ashton. “But it can also be demanding and sometimes draining.”
El Dorado County’s population includes 16.4 percent seniors versus a 12 percent county average statewide, said Ashton. Since 1989, the one other senior day care site in the county has been housed in Placerville.
“On any given day, half of the attendants at the Placerville location come from Cameron Park, El Dorado Hills and Shingle Springs,” said District 1 Commisioner on Aging Hal Erpenbeck, another champion of the site’s opening. “The Placerville site can occupy 32 people at once and demand for it has grown. Opening up this second site is a real asset to the county. My biggest concern is the El Dorado Hills Senior Day Care Center will fill up right away.”
The new El Dorado Hills site can take 24 seniors at a time.
The El Dorado County Transit Authority partners with the Senior Day Care program, providing subsidized transportation for Senior Day Care clients since 1990. Transportation services may be arranged through Senior Day Care staff.
“Am I excited?” Linda Zisko, the new El Dorado Hills’ site supervisor said. The rhetorical question was indeed an understatement as Zisko looked at surrounding colleagues with a smile. “I am beyond excited to be able to serve the seniors, to make today a great day for them and to give them purpose.”
Activities at the Senior Day Care Center include daily group exercise classes, crafts, modified sports, guest speakers, live music and field trips. There is a terrace and outdoor memory garden too. “It’s just a place for quiet,” said Demarest of the garden. “It’s for thinking and the memory; that’s what we’re taking care of.”
Costs are on a sliding scale depending on use — on average $44 to $58 per day. The day care is open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm.
Two snacks and a hot lunch are included. Supportive services, education and referral information are also available for members and their families. Attendees are evaluated on a first-come, first-serve basis, with preference going to county residents.
There were several interested out-of-county visitors at the grand opening, worried it would fill up before their parents could get in.
“We are very interested,” said Paula Schwartz from Rancho Cordova who came with her mother, 94-year-old Sally Yagjian. Sally lives in Paula’s home. “We have looked in our own county and there is not another program as extensive as this in a protected, safe environment. We’re looking to expand her time interacting with other people her age and situation.”
“I like the maximum size and the flexibility here. The other places we’ve looked into have a ‘use it or lose it’ policy. Here, if you can’t attend last minute the hours roll over,” she continued. “I’m not sure we’ll be able to get in, but I really hope we do.”
Helen Joachim, 94, lives with her adult son and his family in Rancho Cordova. As Helen toured the memory garden her son talked about the three day a week supervised care she receives now at a church near their home. “
It’s only up to five hours a day and it costs twice as much as this,” he said. “This is worth the drive …. It’s a wonderful place.”
As of press time, site supervisor Zisko said they have space for Helen and Sally.
District 3 Supervisor and former El Dorado Hills Fire Chief Brian Veerkamp spoke on behalf of Ramona ‘Moni’ Gilmore, the tireless senior activist who left the bulk of her estate for the betterment of local seniors before she passed away in 2008. She worked with Veerkamp to see the old fire station transformed into the El Dorado Hills Senior Center, which was renamed in her honor last summer.
“Without Moni and her vision this day would’ve never occurred,” said Veerkamp. “I’m proud as a peach to make Moni’s vision continue on.”
El Dorado Hills Raley’s and Nugget stores and Eskaton donated refreshments for the event.
The Senior Day Care is located at 990 Lassen Lane in El Dorado Hills behind the El Dorado Hills Senior Center. For more information or to enroll in El Dorado Hills’ Senior Day Care call (916) 358-3560 or visit edcgov.us/humanservices.