NORWICH — The Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center, located at 14 Canasawacta Street next door to Chenango Valley Home, will be hosting an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 19. Interested individuals can stop by, enjoy light refreshments, and learn about the services the center offers as well as tips to combat caregiver stress.
The Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center is a social adult day care open to local seniors over 60 years of age with functional impairments due to physical or cognitive conditions.
"Our biggest goal is we want to keep people independent and a part of the community for as long as possible. Socialization is a big part of what we do. Isolation is awful for seniors, for anybody, it causes depression and it even has been linked to decline in cognitive functions and things like that," explained Program Coordinator Bonnie Lamb.
The center features a handicap accessible bathroom, kitchenette for snacks and drinks, an open room for crafts and games, and a quiet room, where members can go to sit and read, play word puzzle books, or rest and enjoy the quiet.
Members are provided meals provided by the licensed dietitians at Chenango Valley Home, snacks, and enjoy activities such as games and crafts, exercise, outings, and visits from Shadey the Emotional Support Dog.
"We do a lot of memory care activities," said Lamb. "Different puzzles, things that keep their minds occupied. We do a lot of exercise to keep them limber and nice and in shape. And that's a big part too, if they’re home a lot they’re not active, which can also lead to decline."
In the past, the center has taken outings to Bowman Lake for fishing, the NBT Free Summer Concert Series, a butterfly sanctuary in Oneonta, the movie theater, and more. Activities and outings are generally planned a month in advance, so members can take a look at upcoming programs to decide what days they'd like to attend the center.
Ultimately, Lamb said the center aims to provide care and activities geared toward each individual's interests.
"We strive to make sure that everyone keeps their independence and they feel welcomed, and we do a lot of person-centered planning," Lamb explained. For instance, one member enjoys activities that help others. "She likes to help. So today she’s painting pink crates for our tables for Valentine’s Day. So she helps out and does different things where she can, because that’s where she feels the most purpose. So we try to do things that’s geared toward them."
In addition to providing socialization, cognitive health, and exercise for local seniors, the Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center can also be a great alternative to moving loved ones to a nursing home, or serve as a stepping stone on the way to a home, according to Lamb.
"There’s a lot of families that they don’t want to put their loved ones in nursing homes, so that’s kind of where we come in. so they’ll come here and get their nutrition, their personal care assistance, everything they would normally get in a nursing home without having to live in a home," she said.
"A lot of times we could be a bridge gap for people that aren’t ready for a nursing home, and sometimes they’ll come and attend the program here for a while. And then they find where they might need more care, and they actually move over to [Chenango Valley Home]."
She said the center can serve as respite for caregivers as well, whether they need to go to work during the day, go to an appointment or run errands, or simply need a break for a day.
"They’re working, they have lives of their own, and their health is just as important. You can’t take care of somebody unless you take care of yourself," said Lamb. "So we offer that break for them, whether it’s to work or you just need me time, they can come and hang out here at the center while you have that time to yourself."
Admission into the Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center is based on a set of criteria, such as: participants must be 60 years or older, indicate a willingness to participate in the program, be functionally challenged either due to physical or cognitive conditions, must not require constant one-on-one staff supervision, among others.
Members are able to attend the center on an hourly, half day, or full day basis, Monday through Friday. The hourly rate is $20 per hour, half days are $65, and full days are $100, and may be paid for privately, through county funding options, or through Medicaid Long Term Care.
Additionally, the center is in the final stages of establishing contracts with the Veterans Association and Fidelis Care, which will be able to cover the cost of attendance once the contracts are finalized.
The Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center first opened their doors in 2019. After a brief closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the center reopened and has been going strong ever since. Lamb said in the future she aims to collaborate with other local organizations to provide even more programs to the seniors they serve.
Lamb said she hopes to continue spreading the word about the center, to provide care and socialization to more area seniors and support to local caregivers.
"I think the biggest thing is letting the community know that we’re here," she said. "For discharge planners and things at the hospital, we’re going to be having a ‘dine and dash’ lunch in February. So we’ll get some of those that do community-based services in the community and kind of get everybody on board and see if there’s populations that we’re missing that we could reach out to and help."
"We want to be like a home away from home."
For more information on the Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center, attend the open house from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 19, or visit ChenangoValleyAEC.com or the Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center Facebook page.