Could a Visalia Senior Day Care Center Open Soon?
Last updated 11/1/2020 at 12:46pm | View PDF
If Valley Adult Day Services can stay afloat in Porterville, the goal is to downsize the facility and put funding into a second center in Visalia, where there is a need to provide stimulating day services for dementia patients while giving caretakers a much-needed break.
Kimberly Jensen, community liaison at Quail Park Senior Living in Visalia, has been building the dream ever since she began working at Quail Park 10 years ago.
She envisions a facility that's like a little village for dementia patients, with each storefront providing a fun therapy. Participants will be able to "ride" on a train with TV screens that change outdoor scenes from the windows, with clacking tracks underneath. The riders can have lunch on the train if they want.
"Travel therapy is huge," said Jensen. "They will feel like they're going on an adventure, like they're doing something on their own."
There will be a malt shop to go for ice cream, also offering selections for diabetics. There will also be a nail salon for touch therapy.
"Touch is so important. Your loved ones can be pampered."
Then there's the aquarium, no water but a room all painted in blue with TV screens and speakers so seniors can watch scenes of fish and whales with calming music.
"This is for meditation therapy, where participants can go if they get agitated," said Jensen.
Outside of the storefronts, the common area will be filled with park benches and places where they can paint, listen to volunteer musical events and watch children's dance performances.
Jensen has done much research on what makes a good dementia day facility and has even identified a building she believes will work.
The facility would be a one-stop shop for seniors and their caregivers. Once dropped off, participants could have their physical therapy and their blood draw there.
"That means caregivers will have one less appointment they have to take their loved one to," Jensen said.
Jensen runs support groups for caregivers and understands their exhaustion and frustration.
"I started seeing more and more care givers passing away before their loved ones. I started doing research, and it shows that 30% of caregivers die before the patient," she said.
"They're just desperate for help," she added. "It's hard enough for them to get their loved ones to all their appointments, let alone going to the doctor for themselves."
The senior day care center would allow the caretaker to drop off their loved one for some respite time, to go to work or to do some shopping.
It would be in a safe place, with fun activities and healthy meals. Jensen would like to see the cost on a sliding scale, based on the family's ability to pay.
"It will be a place of dignity and respect for those who desperately need stimulation and a thriving environment," she said. "These are real people inside their dementia. They might not be the person they were, but they are the person they are now. We want them to rediscover adventure, purpose and fun."
But it will take the community to make this a reality. Fundraising is needed. Architects, builders and other volunteers are needed.
If you can help or want to learn about support groups, call Kimberly Jensen at (559) 737-7443.