Adult day care center open at Oak Park Arms

Program provides activities, outings for participants 55 and over

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

An adult day care center that will give older adults opportunities to exercise, do art projects, go on outings and share memories from their pasts opened on Monday at the Oak Park Arms retirement community.

The facility, located on the fifth floor of the Arms where the Senior Services Center used to be, will provide socialization and stimulation for adults ages 55 and over, said the Arms' marketing director, Jill Wagner. She said the staff wanted to make the program age-appropriate and take advantage of the fact that the participants already have life experiences. For example, Wagner said instead of just having a painting class at the day center, they could visit the Art Institute and pick out a work of art they've seen before to paint.

The day center will also help the participants' families by giving them structure during the day, said Pat Koko, the program's outreach coordinator. She said it will help keep their minds and bodies alert and active and their families won't have to worry about whether they remembered to eat or turn off the stove.

Four people had signed up for the first day, and Koko said an activity called "remember when?" was already a hit. The participants were pulling out pictures from magazines of places and things from the 1940s, '50s and '60s, which brought about many memories and stories. One woman who is cognitively impaired was able to recognize a picture of Jackie Kennedy, Koko said. The program, which is open to anyone, will also incorporate other activities going on at the Arms.

Koko said the organized activities on a regular basis will help people do better for a longer period of time. Wagner said the plan for a day center came about because they learned that there were more adult children who have parents living with them. They wanted to cater to a senior population that has more sophisticated needs, she said. The location of the Arms is convenient for people who live in the area, or those who are dropping off their relatives from further suburbs on their way into Chicago, she added.

Much of the time is scheduled, but there's always an opportunity for free time so participants can do things on their own. No one has to do any activity, but "sometimes having the opportunity is what people are lacking," Wagner said.

The facility is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Attendees are served breakfast, lunch and snacks prepared by a chef, and transportation to and from the facility is provided if necessary. Those dropping off their relatives can call ahead if they want a staff member to greet the participant at the door. There is a nurse available for people who need medication reminders, but Koko said they can't accommodate people with serious cognitive impairments.

An open house will be held for the public on Jan. 23 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wagner said. For more information, call 708-386-4040.

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