NORWICH — The Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center (AEC) recently finalized a contract with the Veterans Association (VA) that will help to offset the cost of attending a social adult day program for some seniors with benefits through the VA.
The AEC is an adult day program for seniors over the age of 60 that aims to keep them an active member of the community, while also providing respite to their caregivers.
"We do things that make them remain a part of the community. We do outings, we’ve gone fishing, we’ve gone to the car museum and all sorts of different places," explained AEC Coordinator Bonnie Lamb. "A lot of times it’s spouses that need caregiver respite. So if the husband takes care of the wife and they need a break, the wife can come here and hang out and get everything that they would necessarily get in a nursing home, but they get to go home at the end of the day."
Although programs like the AEC are less expensive than a nursing home, Lamb said the costs of attending can still add up. Their contract with the VA will provide coverage to eligible senior veterans, making the program more accessible for local seniors and their caregivers.
"Anybody in the community that does receive those benefits might be eligible to attend the program here, [and] have that service covered. Which is a huge help, especially for families," said Lamb. "The cost of social daycare can be expensive at times, but it's a lot cheaper than a nursing home or something like that. So not only are they keeping their family members in the community, they're also keeping them out of nursing homes, which is good."
"They would contact us or contact their case manager to find out if social adult daycare is something that they would be eligible for," she added.
Lamb said the idea to contract with the VA came about because one of their members is a veteran, and they were looking for ways to make utilizing their program easier for both their family, and other families of senior veterans.
The Center contacted the VA and got the ball rolling on a contract. It's finalization marks a major step for the VA, as Lamb said the AEC is one of the first social adult day programs to partner with the organization.
"We are actually one of the very few social centers in New York State that have successfully gotten a contract with them," she said. "They don’t have a lot of social centers, so we are one of the first they are partnering with, which is really exciting, because usually they only partner with medical models."
The AEC is also currently working on a similar contract with Fidelis, one of the area's most used insurance providers.
"Fidelis Care is one of the biggest holders in our area, so it was very important to us that we got that contract with them. We don’t have it finalized yet, but we are working on the final details and we’re hoping to have that in the next couple of weeks," Lamb explained. "So anybody who receives benefits through Fidelis could possibly be eligible for a social adult day program. It’s very exciting."
She credits Assemblyman Joseph Angelino as a major player in completing the contract. Lamb said he helped make the process go much smoother and faster, and he even stopped by the Center for a visit with his wife.
Additionally, the Adult Enrichment Center works with Nascentia Health and iCircle to provide coverage for their day program.
Lamb said the addition of the VA and Fidelis contracts will help to expand the amount of local seniors eligible for program coverage.
"There really is a need for it. I mean, think of how many people don’t want to send their loved ones to a nursing home, and they feel like that’s their only option. And it’s not. They have that option of keeping their loved one at home when they’re home, and if they need that break, that’s where we come in," said Lamb.
"We’re going to be able to serve a lot more people, possibly. There’s a lot of veterans, especially senior veterans, in the area that could definitely use a program like this. Even just to come out and have a cup of coffee with another veteran," she continued. "[People] think, 'oh my loved one’s functioning is declining,' and they see that decline and they automatically think, ‘oh, I have to put them in a nursing home.’ And that’s not true anymore. We have people that come while their loved one works, we have people that come while their loved one grocery shops. It’s just a matter of the family needs."
She also encourages anyone interested in their program but without eligible insurance coverage to contact the Center, as there are other potential funding options available.
For questions on attending the AEC's social adult day program, call the Center at 607-373-3653.
More information on the Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center, their day program, and their Alzheimer's caregiver support meetings can be found at ChenangoValleyAEC.com and on the Chenango Valley Adult Enrichment Center Facebook page.