Daily exercise and cognitive activities alongside crafts, special activities and friendly conversation keep seniors and adults with disabilities who attend one of the Foundation for Senior Living’s three adult day health centers healthy and as independent as possible. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Daily exercise and cognitive activities alongside crafts, special activities and friendly conversation keep seniors and adults with disabilities who attend one of the Foundation for Senior Living’s three adult day health centers healthy and as independent as possible. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Every weekday seniors and disabled adults arrive at one of three adult day health facilities that the Foundation for Senior Living has been running since its inception 40 years ago.

Clients tackle crossword puzzles, participate in group exercise and discuss current events. They also snack or work on crafts. A few occasionally nap.

Foundation for Senior Living

For information about its array of services for the elderly and adults with disabilities, call
(602) 285-1800 or visit www.fsl.org.

Every activity furthers the Foundation for Senior Living’s mission: to promote greater physical and emotional well-being for seniors and adults with disabilities. That in turn preserves the dignity and independence of clients. Services support their caregivers too.

“It gave my dad meaning, purpose, joy,” Marisue Garganta said of her father’s time at one of the day centers. “We needed somewhere to place him daily to have his life fulfilled.”

Garganta’s father suffered from Parkinson’s disease and enjoyed his time at the center to finish an array of projects. He died several years ago.

Garganta, who joined the board of directors before her father became a client, is in her third year as chair. She described the Foundation for Senior Living’s work as innovative, important and strategic for clients at home and in the hospital.

“The passion for me both professionally and personally is that they’re really living the ministry,” Garganta said. “You walk into any of their programs and you see Jesus there.”

“Our goal here is to keep clients at their maximum functioning level as long as possible,” said Carolyn Hutchens, center director for the Adult Day Health Services facility in Tempe.

She can easily point to success stories too. Hutchens recalled one of the facility’s first clients in the late 1980s. A wife enrolled her husband of 56 years.

They didn’t have a modified bathroom at home and the only way she could help her husband bathe — and keep him out of a nursing home — was due to the physical therapy he received through the Foundation for Senior Living. The strength he maintained there was enough to get him into the shower at home.

The organization has boosted other efforts to keep loved ones at home over the years. A Caregiver House opened in Phoenix seven years ago. It sits on the same property as the Foundation for Senior Living’s administrative offices.

Staff offers training for professional and family caregivers plus seniors and adults with disabilities who manage their own care needs. They show how to give bed baths, reposition a loved one in bed, transfer from a wheelchair and use a Hoyer lift. Visitors also learn about opportunities for home design or modification and ideas for self-care and rejuvenation as a caregiver.

Servant leadership

The concept was so popular that the Foundation for Senior Living launched a mobile caregiver training unit two years ago. The 26-foot bus travels statewide with staff essentially putting the caregiver house on wheels.

The Arizona Caregiver Coalition reports some 855,000 family caregivers statewide and the Foundation for Senior Living is equipping them to manage their role. Guy Mikkelsen, president and chief executive officer, said the Foundation for Senior Living has continually re-invented itself to respond to the outside world, especially addressing health care as a poverty reduction strategy. Great visionaries serving on the board of directors for Phoenix’s Catholic Charities played a key role in shaping the Foundation for Senior Living too.

“We have always been very entrepreneurial to meet the needs of the community” while keeping servant leadership as a core value, Mikkelsen said. The Foundation for Senior Living has successfully diversified. In addition to day health services, home care and home health care that address the whole person, the organization runs assisted group living homes and affordable housing including a newly refurbished multifamily housing property in East Phoenix.

It also offers home energy solutions and operates the Southwest Building Science Training Center.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great story Ambria. We are attempting to create a comprehensive database of facilities that provide activities for Seniors, and this helps. I teach at the Center for Life and Learning at the 4th Presbyterian Church in Chicago- 0ver 100 seniors a week. My student love the chair exercise, as well as the social aspect of the activity.

    Thanks for sharing!

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