The Roger B. Trask Adult Day Health at the Peabody Council on Aging has been a lifeline for Irene Kenny of Peabody. It is impossible to believe that the engaged and delightful Irene we find today was once hesitant, resistant to attending a day program, and immobilized by anxiety.
“This place has become like family to me. I don’t want to think about what I would do if I did not have this program to come to every day.”
The Trask Center is available to those ages 60 and over who need extra help maintaining an independent lifestyle. You do not have to live in Peabody. There is a structured and supervised daily program consisting of stimulating activities tailored especially for elderly with individual interests and levels of functioning.
There is a professional staff including, registered nurses, licensed social workers, an activities coordinator, and health aides to work together with each individual.
Susan Levenson, RN, is the Program Director at Trask. “Every person attending has an individualized plan of care. We meet with the family and the participant to do this assessment. We have on-going communication with the physician and other involved health care professionals.”
Susan’s experience is that very few people want to go to the day program initially. “Most are resistant. They are scared of the unknown. But most people end up becoming active participants and enjoying their time here.”
Irene admits to being very anxious the first few weeks. “I just sat in the chair not doing anything. Now I do everything! They can’t stop me!”
“Everyone was so nice. It was not anything to do with the staff. It was me. Finally, I told myself, everyone else is enjoying it. Get with the program.”
North Shore Elder Services Care Manager Barbara Byrne saw the crippling effect of Irene’s anxiety. “You couldn’t help but want to do something to help Irene overcome the anxiety which was negatively impacting her life.”
A day program offered a chance for Irene to get involved and be less isolated.
“I was tired of staying home all day and being alone.” Still it took much convincing on the part of Barbara Byrne and the staff at the Trask Center.
Then it seemed quite quickly that Irene got over the initial hurdle and settled in.
Now Irene considers herself like a spokesperson for the program. “I know what someone is feeling when they first come here. I understand their fears and concerns. I can help someone get through that because of what I went through.”
Susan Levensen describes how the Trask program is unique. “It is licensed by the Department of Public Health. It is the only day health program in MA that is in a Senior Center (Council on Aging). People use the Senior Center and can then easily transition to the day program if necessary.”
Clinical eligibility has changed and become tighter. The program has a scholarship program made available through grants and donations. This helps pay for those who are unable to pay on their own. The cost of the program is $64 per day with transportation by van in Peabody an additional $4.00 each way for Peabody residents. Outside of Peabody, it is $15.25 each way for transport. Medicaid if eligible can cover the cost of the program.
The services provided include skilled nursing care, assistance with personal hygiene/showers, assistance with toileting, medication management, supervision, wholesome meals, exercise, socialization, counseling, group and individual activities, and information and referrals.
Irene enjoys the many outings, parties, and entertainment. She especially appreciates that the Peabody High School culinary program and cosmetology program invites the group for a nominal fee to a meal and a haircut. The “Lunch Bunch” gets to different restaurants.
Irene has made friends and gained independence. Most noticeably, is that Irene is no longer isolated in her own home by her anxiety.
The program does not just benefit the participants. As Susan points out, the caregivers can benefit by having some respite time. It helps maintain an individual living at home. In addition, for those who work outside the home, freedom to do that while knowing their person is safe.
Susan does see that it can be difficult for a caregiver when a loved on resists going to the program. “They feel guilty making someone do something they do not want to do. However, the caregiver often needs this time to be a better caregiver. I tell people to stick with it because usually the participant adjusts and enjoys.”
Through the concerted efforts of the Trask Center and North Shore Elder Services, Irene has made great strides. Irene is pleased with the progress she has made. She would recommend to anyone having doubts about a day program to “give yourself a chance and you will like it.”
If you want to find out more about the Trask program visit their website at http://www.peabodycoa.org/trask.html or call Susan Levenson at 978-531-2254. The center will be offering Memory Cafes once a month on a Thursday evening. Dinner is provided. The cafes offer a chance for the caregiver to bring a loved one who is dealing with dementia to a safe and fun place to meet others. https://www.memorycafedirectory.com/memory-cafes-in-massachusetts/