Three days a week 87-year-old Bessie Young of Broadview sips coffee at a chatty breakfast table with five new friends. She is catching up on their lives, before they and all the other seniors in the dining room start their day at Accolade Adult Day Care Services, a program of Catholic Charities in Oak Park.

The elder Young lives with her daughter, and came here after she had taken several serious falls. The last one landed her in the hospital for two months with complications. After Young was released from the hospital, and with her no longer being able to be left alone during the day, her daughter did some research and found Accolade, and soon after Young says her days began perking up.

“We do exercises, color all kinds of pictures, and play different games like bingo and Jenga,” say Young, who now uses a walker and sometimes a minor assist from a staff member, to get around. “It’s always first one thing, and then another. But that is what this is all about, keeping us seniors busy.”

Nearby, now two months into a three-day-a-week program, Ozella Anderson, 88, who lives independently, but in the same home as her daughter in Summit says she is happy as a clam today because “I don’t do anything here but laugh and talk and eat,” she says. “I wouldn’t be doing that at home, because most of the time I would be sitting by myself.”

Now in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, Anderson says she “still thinks pretty good,” adding that she is all dolled up in a Sunday-go-to-meetin’ hat and peacock blue outfit because “being a widow, single and all, I just want everyone to know that I am looking for a new husband,” she laughs, adding that “No, no, I haven’t found one here yet.”

Accolade’s director, ShareceDavis,says that five days a week, she, her staff and a continuous flow of community volunteers care for the needs of these semi-independent seniors and others, who range in age from 26 to 101.

Their day begins with a meet-and-greet, and moves on to a Rolodex of recreational activities, including field trips to local zoos, and to see attractions in the City of Chicago.

“People who come here mostly have early Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, or they may just want to have something to do during the day,” Davis says. “So, any caregiver who is looking for complete supervision of a loved one in a safe environment, to get them off the couch all day, they should consider reaching out to us.”

After Thomas Mitchell, 65, suffered a stroke in 2001, his wife signed him up as an alternative to him taking daytime catnaps, and then be too rested to sleep at night.

“This place puts some action in my day, yes it does, and I am really good at trivia, which is something I never knew,” says the military veteran, who depends on a cane to walk. “I participate in everything, and they even have a Catholic priest who comes by and reads the Bible, and we discuss it. It’s right on for me. I like the spiritual aspects of this place, yes I do.”

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Deb Quantock McCarey

Deb Quantock McCarey is an Illinois Press Association (IPA) award-winning freelance writer who has worked with Wednesday Journal Inc. since 1995, writing features and special sections for all its publications....