Back in February 2020, Dave Harlan needed a change of scene. He and his wife had been managing their own medical needs, but juggling their care had become increasingly difficult. So Dave decided to sign up with PACE-RI.
Initially it was PACE-RI’s homecare services, transportation, and medical oversight that drew him to the program. But as PACE staff helped he and his wife weather the pandemic, it became clear just how much more PACE had to offer.
These days, Dave is happy to have lots of warm people around him regularly. His friends at the Adult Day Center of Westerly are charming, and always make him smile. In the relaxed environment of the day center, he can get to know the other folks while staying healthy too. Mornings are spent over a game of horseshoes or getting together for a mid-morning chat.
One fellow participant is his buddy Mike, who Dave met at ADCW. “He’s funny. He’s a New York Yankees fan, so they go after him for that,” Dave says wryly. Mike is hardly the only person that Dave has come to know and appreciate at the center either. Some of the best relationships he has are with the staff.
Hope and Melissa are two of the CNA’s at the day center who really connected with Dave from the start. “They get to know you, and you get to know them,” Dave explains. The trust that he has in the staff is apparent in the ease of his voice. “They really make an effort to connect with the participants,” he continues.
That connection is more relevant than ever in this period of social isolation. According to The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, during the pandemic “Many older adults lost usual ways to connect with support networks and health and social service providers and are spending increased time alone.” This isolation is detrimental to older adults’ overall health, with increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline. So having familiar people to interact with every day can make a big difference for people like Dave.
Dave gives top marks to the ADCW clinical staff when it comes to care too. “They always follow up with me,” he says of his medical needs. He notes that nothing is overlooked, and nothing feels like it will get lost in the shuffle. “The aides really take an interest in your care.”
Beyond his relationships with the staff, Dave takes time to pursue his hobbies at the day center. Some days that means playing bocce ball with other participants or singing along to “Name that tune” where Creedence Clearwater Revival is one of his go-to bands. But Dave also takes time to work on personal projects like painting.
“I started back in junior high school, but I didn’t stick with it,” he says. As an adult he worked as a professional maintenance painter, but it never brought him the same joy as the canvas. Dave was glad when the staff at PACE encouraged him to take up the brush again. Now he paints regularly and gets a lot of satisfaction from the activity. His latest work depicts a jaguar partially hidden in dense foliage. “This one has taken almost a week,” Dave explains.
With the friends he has made and staff that look forward to seeing him in the day center, Dave is certain that PACE has improved his life. “You really can’t say enough,” he nods.