Adult daycares provide safe place, can stimulate minds (slide show)

Part 2 of 2

ARLINGTON – More adult daycares are needed.

“Dementia is a sad disease,” said Susan Lee, owner of Leeside Manor in Arlington, an adult daycare.

Not only is it sad for the person who has it and their family, but it is also sad how it strips the family of its finances.

“It will take everything you have before government steps in and helps out,” Lee said of senior care.

Amy Marohn of the consultant firm Home Gems said the daycares don’t compete with other senior care facilities.

The daycare is “an effort to keep families together. It’s not to replace, but to be part of the continuum of care. It’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem.”

Lee started her daycare in 2013, but joined with Katie Gaswint and Marohn’s Home Gems this year.

Like Gaswint, she had trouble finding out how to do her business. “I was paranoid I wasn’t doing it right,” she said.

Lee said there are adult daycares in Everett and to the south, but few in this area. She said when she opened she had five women immediately in need of care. Families love it.

“They are home alone and bored,” Lee said of her clients. “Family can bring them in once or twice a week and get a personal break.”

Working in the shop

To keep them active, Lee used to have them work on crafts. But she found out the men aren’t really into that.

So when her husband Mark retired, he started having them help out in his shop, where he builds small airplanes.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Lee said. “They are more comfortable in a work environment – not sitting and crocheting, watching TV or painting.”

She called it a “wow” moment. The men became more social in the shop.

Tim Huckeba said the men like being out there.

“They hardly talk inside watching TV but they do out here,” he said.

Lee said, “Women talk face to face, but men talk standing shoulder to shoulder.”

Mark said he keeps them active.

“We don’t tax them too much,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if they do one rivet or one hundred a day. It’s just being out here.”

On this day they took turns de-burring holes so rivets would sink better. “We spend a lot of time talking,” Mark said. “But they are part of it. They can say, “Yea I helped build that plane.”

Mark said a relative of one of the clients came to visit one day, and he wasn’t really interested in seeing the house.

“He wanted to see the plane,” they were building, Mark said.

When the planes are done – they’ve worked on about five – Mark sells them and the money made is used to buy more plane materials.

The planes are beginner models, two seaters that can go up to 200 miles per hour. “It’s like a paint-by-numbers kit,” Mark said. “It’s ideal for seniors. It’s slow, monotonous hands-on work. It’s not mass production.”

Mark said he would love to have volunteers help out, especially if they have experience building planes.

Clients learn other skills

Working on planes isn’t all they do. They also make t-shirts with both a silkscreen and heat transfer process.

“They pull the press down,” Mark said of the elderly men in his care.

They also can do some woodworking and gardening.

“Anything to be involved,” Mark said.

On her intake form, one of the questions is what hobbies they have? “I like to do what they like,” Lee said. “If they never liked to crochet you’re not going to get them to crochet.”

She said she only has to come up with one or two projects a day. “It’s not like little kids where you have to find something new every fifteen minutes,” she said, adding they sleep a lot, sometimes even while eating lunch. Families are so appreciative of the service. “Wives are at the end of their rope,” she said. “They’ve been married to this guy for fifty years, so they don’t want to throw him aside. They just want a nap.”

Mark added, “It’s killing the spouses.”

Lee said Alzheimer’s is a 24-hour disease. “They don’t realize day and night,” she said. “It’s extremely taxing.”

She said one woman just needs the daycare for a few hours a month, just to get her hair done. Lee said that woman likes that she can pay for it herself, and not depend on her kids.

In another case, a daughter wanted full-time care for her mother who was 93 and in assisted living. When she found out that doing that would triple the cost, she decided to take her mom in herself and bring her there during the day.

“A lot of it has to do with money,” Lee said.

She said she and her husband both enjoy the business and have asked themselves, “Why didn’t we do it years ago?” Lee said she would like to see more adult daycares. “There’s not enough of us to have clout to do anything,” she said.

Lee said so much more help taking care of the elderly is needed. “Caring for an older adult is exhausting,” she said. “They turn into a child.”


Certain skills needed for this business

MARYSVILLE – The adult daycare business is not for everyone.

“It’s a calling,” Amy Marohn of Home Gems said. “They are our little earth angels. We make sure our elders are taken care of.”

Marohn said the best candidates for adult daycare are retired nurses and Baby Boomers. “They can walk in that person’s shoes,” she said of boomers. “Pretty soon they could be there themselves.”

Other good candidates are people who aren’t ready to retire, but may be tired of a commute or corporate America. Husband and wife teams also work well, but they frown on hiring outside help because of liability issues.

“It’s a very vulnerable population,” Marohn said, adding the different daycares exchange clients when someone goes on vacation. “Rather than compete they help each other.”

The company does background checks, and helps newcomers learn CPR and first aid, and get a food handler’s permit. They are mentors, but the businesses are their own.

“It’s a turnkey system so you can hit the ground running,” Marohn said.

She added that it’s not that hard, as long as you don’t take in patients you can’t handle.

“We provide custodial care,” Marohn said. “Most of the time they can do everything themselves.”

Home Gems

•A consulting company that provides business development services to those interested in opening an independently owned and operated adult daycare and respite home in their personal residence.

•Start a movement to deinstitutionalization that empowers elders and caregivers to live better, quality lives.

•Cannot handle those who need assisted living or skilled nursing facilities.

•Recruit individuals with medical, mental health or social service backgrounds.

•Phone Katie Gaswint at 360-653-0167 or Amy Marohn at 425-229-1480. Or go to

•An open house on the business is taking place June 15 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. so people can check out the facility and business possibilities.

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