July 10, 2012 |

Adult day care gives families much needed breaks

Katie DeVore Gaswint with client Ophelia Williams, also known as “Dimples” in

front of her home which houses her Adult Day Care.

At the young age of 46, Katie DeVore was told that her husband John was suffering from what looked like Alzheimer’s disease. She soon realized that John was going to need full time care.

“At first, I was in denial,” DeVore-Gaswint said. “I just couldn’t stand the thought of putting him in an institution.”

As the days of caring turned into months and even years, DeVore soon realized that she needed a break now and again in order to continue to care for her husband twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

DeVore had been a nurse’s aid for almost three decades and still felt the need for some respite when it came to caring for her husband of 27 years.

John passed away 13 years later on August 19, 1997.

Through the care of her husband, DeVore, who later changed back to her maiden name Gaswint, realized that there were most likely others who needed some support, if only for a few hours, from caring for their adult family members.

This is where the idea for Katie’s Adult Day Care came from.

“If I had had an adult day care to take John to it would have really helped,” she said. “Sometimes I just needed a break to go to lunch or shopping.”

Because the cost of full-time care for these patients can be expensive, many families choose to care for them in their homes.

Gaswint started her Adult Day Care a year into John’s diagnosis and continued it even after his death.

“I could have closed my doors but so many people walked with me through this journey,” she said.

After starting the day care, Gaswint soon realized that there needed to be guidelines and regulations set to avoid abuse. She contacted then Marysville Mayor Dave Weiser to help put together some regulations and oversight.

She has since worked with mayors Dennis Kendall and Jon Nehring.

In 2011 Nehring included the fire chief, police chief, city chaplain and planning department representatives to help develop policies to protect seniors and their families.

“Jon Nehring said, ‘Let’s make this happen,’” Gaswint explained.

And so they did. There are currently five adult day care homes in Snohomish County including Katie’s. One in Stanwood, three in Marysville and one in the Lake Stevens/Lake Cassidy area.

Each home must be certified in CPR, first aid and complete background checks, among many other regulations. The fire departments inspect each home as well. Staff must also be tested for tuberculosis and agree to drug testing.

“We’re bringing the common sense back home,” Gaswint said. “All of these owners are either caregivers or have been caregivers.”

They have even formed an association to work together.

Tom Nowak, MD is a retired Emergency Care Physician, he and care providers Barb Fuentes and Paulette Olston are currently taking care of his 92-year-old father, Doc. They have opened an adult day care in the Lake Stevens area on seven acres near Centennial Trail.

“The house was refurbished in February 2012 and we moved Dr. Nowak (Doc), in March. He is aging and was in a retirement center and had to take medication for anxiety. He hasn’t taken any medications since being here,” Olston said. “We are hoping to find someone long-term who is compatible with Doc. But the adult day care is open for people in Lake Stevens who are taking care of their parents.”

Olston and the Nowaks have found that there are many children in Lake Stevens who are taking care of their aging parents and they have to work. With the mounting cost of retirement centers and the lack of funds, families have no choice but to care for their family members themselves.

“We’ve noticed there are a lot of children taking care of their parents because the state has no money and they are overwhelmed with the care that is needed and many of them have to work,” Olston said. “If they just need to be watched to make sure they don’t fall or whatever it’s $65 a day and we are getting calls all of the time. These people need a break.”

The Nowaks have several different riding devices and nature by the acre. Folks can take walks, or rides, on Centennial Trail, just sit back and listen to the birds chirping or enjoy a nice conversation.

“Drop them off here and let them have some fun. We have all kinds of riding devices to take them out on the trail,” Olston said. “I worked for the State of Washington for 31 years. If I knew I could drop my mom or dad off here and go to work, I would feel great. I know that they would be interacting with something other than the television.”

Gaswint wants caregivers to know that it’s not about the guilt. She knows that caregivers are doing the best they can with the resources they have and that these day care centers are there to help them get a break.

“We shouldn’t feel guilty because we need some time off,” she said. “This is a short term solution for a long-term problem.”

To reach Katie Gaswint, phone 360-653-0167 or email katieyouhoo@aol.com.

To find out more about the Centennial Trail Home Sweet Home, run by Dr. Nowak and Barb Fuentes, visit www.centennialhomesweethome.com or phone 425-789-1431.

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