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Pandemic Disrupts Adult Day Care Programs On Central, South Coasts Adding To Burden On Caregivers

(Photo courtesy Senior Concerns)
The pandemic has forced non-profits serving seniors like Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks to shut down adult day care programs,out of safety concerns.

Cheryl De Bari is facing a problem many families are facing on the Central and South Coasts:  A parent with dementia.  She’s the primary caregiver for her 84 year old mother, Ann. The pandemic has had a big impact on her efforts.

As COVID-19 shut down everything from schools to restaurants on the Central and South Coasts, among those impacted were programs for seniors, who are among those at highest risk for COVID-19.

Adult day care facilities have now been closed down for almost a year.

Like most people in this position, the Moorpark woman found herself taking on a new and unexpected role with her mother.  De Bari had discover Senior Concerns, a Thousand Oaks based non-profit which offers adult day care services for those with memory, and other age-related issues.

Ann went there five days a week, allowing Cheryl to work and do other activities.  Them the pandemic hit.  It’s a problem facing caregivers throughout the region.  At Senior Concerns, their adult day care program provided a vital service to families.

Martha Shapiro is Senior Concerns Director of Programs.  She says knew it was going to create big issues for families who suddenly found themselves without their caregiving backup.  They created a guide for families in the program, giving them tips on activities they could do to fill some of the gap.  And, they are using Zoom to host some events for its clients, to give caregivers a few hours break a week.

Kayla Fowler, who’s the Activity and Volunteer Coordinator for Senior Concerns hosts what’s called a Trivia and Fun event, which challenges the seniors to dig into their memories.

It’s not a substitute for adult day care programs, but it’s something.  Martha Shapiro, with Senior Concerns, says they have also moved caregiver support groups online.  She says those groups have actually grown in size, because people anywhere can participate.

Debari says she’s grateful to get a short break, and her mom loves the zoom events.  But, everyone is anxious to get programs like the adult day care up and running.

Many of those in programs of this type are in high risk groups because of age and pre-existing conditions, and have already received vaccinations.  But, because most of the COVID-19 related deaths are in the older population, it could be months still before things are safe enough for them to reopen. 

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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