NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- A family reunion gathers daily in New Canaan at The Village at Waveny Care Center. The senior citizens in Adult Day Program are not linked by biology or past celebrations, but by caring, compassion, activity and most importantly, love.
“We are a family,’’ said Angel, a Stamford resident who has attended programs for six years. “We’re all one big, happy family.”
Seniors chat with friends on benches at Waveny’s “Main Street,” explore gardens, eat with friends or join one of the broad range of cultural or recreational programs. Anne Pelisson, Supervisor of the Adult Day Program, creates an extensive and varied array of activities, including yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki, music, exercise and games. Events and activities are available seven days a week, such as Jeopardy, crossword puzzles, iPad exploration, Broadway reviews and sing-a-longs. Most days, seniors can choose to participate in as many as 7-10 activities.
“I didn’t want to come to a daycare center. After I came here and found out how nice it is, I didn’t want to leave. I put out my clothes the night before like I’m going to an office, or going to school.” Cora of Stamford, Adult Day Program participant
“She tries to keep everybody happy, and she does a good job at it,’’ said Jack, a Stamford resident who started attending programs just a few months ago.
“We try to keep people happy and engaged and feeling positive,’’ Pelisson said. “It’s a place where they can come every day and make friends. It’s about all of them interacting with one another.”
Cora, a Stamford resident who visits Waveny three times a week, started attending events five years ago. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,’’ she said. “They make you feel welcome. A lot of people don’t go places because they don’t feel welcome. That’s not the case here. The staff is very good, and they treat us nice and make us feel special.”
Cora, who retired from her job in 1994, reluctantly agreed to try the Waveny programs. Now she’s one the program’s biggest ambassadors.
“I didn’t want to come to a daycare center,’’ Cora said. “After I came here and found out how nice it is, I didn’t want to leave. I put out my clothes the night before like I’m going to an office, or going to school.”
She said when she tells friends about Waveny’s programs, they seem incredulous. “I have talked to other people that go to other programs, and they’ve never found a place like this,’’ she said. “One woman said ‘I want to come with you.’ She came and loved it, and loved me. Now she comes here every Friday looking for me.”
Physicians recently told Jack to stop driving because of health issues. He found himself alone at home frequently as his wife, Barbara, runs errands and travels to her activities. “Being home alone is not good for anybody,’’ Jack said. “It took a little time to get used to it. Angel is one of the guys that helped me adjust to coming here. Now I can’t live without it.”
Angel walks and talks as if he’s the Mayor of Main Street -- “Some people have asked me if he works here,’’ Pelisson said -- and has a hearty hello and healthy hug for every visitor. “I like all of the programs here, but especially singing and music,’’ Angel said. “They taught me how to sing and play the drums. I also like the bell choir. I’ll join any program that has music.”
Pelisson’s challenge is developing events that cater to the wide range of physical and emotional needs of the seniors. Some are still high functioning, while others have mobility and cognitive issues. She and her therapeutic recreation staff work to create a continuum of programs that carefully include seniors across all spectrums.
“We try to do something that’s physically, cognitively and spiritually stimulating,’’ Pelisson said. “It’s always a combination of things. It often depends on the staff that we have. We have different leaders with different backgrounds.”
Waveny provides bus transportation for seniors from Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan and Wilton. Seniors also provide input into the programs that are offered.
Waveny’s Adult Day Program sets a template for how seniors should be treated, respected and dignified, and truly puts the gold in the Golden Years.
“Every time I come here, I feel like I’m number one,’’ Cora said. “No other place makes me feel that way.”
For more on Waveny’s Adult Day Programs, visit the Waveny LifeCare Network website .