SAINT JOSEPH, Mich. - The Area Agency on Aging is finishing up construction on a new daycare facility for the elderly in St. Joseph. It’s a new concept for the area that combines a medical clinic with a day center.
“It’s a great place to spend the afternoon,” said Christine Vanlandingham, walking through one of the four ‘day rooms’ in the new wing of the Lakeview Drive building. There’s still some construction left but within months the rooms will be filled with 150 senior citizens.
The ‘participants’ will only spend the day there. For all intents and purposes it’s a day care for the elderly.
But don’t call it day care.
“It’s a day facility where people who can’t really be left alone can come and spend the day and be full of activity and have a good time,” said Lynn Kellogg, CEO of the Area Agency on Aging.
The official name of the program is P.A.C.E. or Program for All inclusive Care for the Elderly.
The $6.4 million building expansion will include game rooms, showers, a cafeteria and a medical clinic in the P.A.C.E facility. Medicare will cover services for the programs. P.A.C.E. expects to take its first participants in July.
“It’s (much) needed,” said St. Joseph resident Bobbi Wagonmaker. She doesn’t care what you call it. It’s a good idea. “There are lots of care centers around but its full-time care,” Wagonmaker said.
Wagonmaker volunteers as a full time job but it wasn’t always easy. In the last few years of her mother’s life she was the caretaker. “It took up five years of my life,” she said “It was non-stop.”
Wagonmaker said a place like P.A.C.E. would have been a relief. “It’s a big relief for caregivers,” said Kellogg.
The new elderly care center likely won’t be the last you’ll see. Berrien County’s population is the fastest aging in Michigan. With an older population, “You need options like this to help (senior citizens) stay involved and help (them) maintain maximum functioning,” said Kellogg.
No matter what name you’re giving it.