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Hospital to offer care, activities for seniors Daytime program planned to monitor health, ease loneliness


Harbor Hospital is going to extend a helping hand to families with elderly members by opening an adult day-care health center in early December.

The center is sponsored by Harbor Life Services, a subsidiary of Harbor Health System. It has two goals: providing health services and activities to ease the loneliness old age can bring.

"We're looking to offer the elderly an option to delay going into a nursing home," said Janet A. Tedesco, administrator of community services and acting program director.

Patricia Moorhouse-Getz, who lives in Brooklyn Park, supports those goals. She and her family share a home with her 75-year-old mother, Rae Louise Getz.

The family's hectic daytime schedules often leave Mrs. Getz alone during the day. Mrs. Moorhouse-Getz hopes to change that by placing her mother in the program.

"She needs the stimulus," said Mrs. Moorhouse-Getz, a nurse at Harbor.

Planned activities include arts and crafts, games, gardening, exercise and cooking classes and support groups. The seniors also will take field trips and go to restaurants.

A registered nurse will serve as health director; a social worker, program assistants, and a recreational therapist will be on staff. Occupational, physical and speech pathology will be offered.

The program will be designed for seniors who suffer from multiple chronic illnesses and the aftereffects of stroke, as well as those with severe arthritis, heart disease, Parkinson's disease and dementia.

Health care workers will coordinate the care of program participants with their physicians, said Ms. Tedesco. The idea is to save money on health care by keeping seniors healthier and independent, she said.

Five people are already on the waiting list. The program has room for 40 and costs $57 per day. A van will pick up people for $3 each way. Medicaid will pay for those eligible. Hospital officials have held fund-raisers to provide subsidies for those who won't be taken care of by the government, said Ms. Tedesco.

The center will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Activities are planned for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Two meals a day will be served, along with snacks.

"I think a day care [center] has a lot of potential to grow and expand," said Ms. Tedesco.

Mrs. Moorhouse-Getz said her mother often passes her days sleeping, playing solitaire, reading or watching television. Her bad knees make it hard for her to get out on her own.

"One of the things I do feel is guilty that Mom doesn't get out more," said Mrs. Moorhouse-Getz. "She's a wonderful person and people love to talk to her. But she doesn't seem to mix well on her own."

The family has tried senior activity centers before, but those didn't go well, said Mrs. Moorhouse-Getz. She hopes Harbor's health center will be a successful solution.

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