Part 1 of 2
MARYSVILLE – Let’s say your mom or dad need a little help because of their aging bodies and minds.
They don’t need a nursing home, and assisted living would be challenging – plus there’s the cost.
You decide to take them in. But you have to work, and you don’t want to leave them alone during the day.
What to do?
Why not take them to daycare? It’s just not for kids anymore.
Katie Gaswint of Marysville started her adult daycare years ago – the first one in the state. “It started out as a love story,” she said.
Her husband, John Devore, developed Alzheimer’s at the young age of 56. She didn’t want to put him in an institution. “I wanted to keep him at home,” she said.
But she needed to make money. So she got the idea of taking care of seniors during the day who had similar issues to help out other families.
She went through years of problems to accomplish her goal, but she said it was worth it. She got to take care of her husband for eight years before he died.
“A doctor told me he would have died after two years” if he didn’t get that home treatment, she said.
Gaswint’s business parter, consultant Amy Marohn, said of Devore: “That man was so at peace. He was happy, content.”
Gaswint said she was glad to be able to take care of Devore until the end.
“They unlearn everything they learn in life,” she said, adding he became her shadow.
Their daughter, Linda, took Devore to dinner five hours before he died. Linda said for about three minutes her dad was like he used to be. But when he got home, he couldn’t even remember that they had been at dinner.
Gaswint then received a big bouquet of flowers. Her daughter told her, “Dad asked me at dinner to buy you flowers when he couldn’t.”
“I lost it,” she said, remembering her emotional response.
Gaswint said she is so proud of her husband. Because he developed Alzheimers at such a young age, he was asked to donate his brain to science.
“I’ll be dead. I won’t need it,” Gaswint remembered him saying.
Memories like that motivate Gaswint to help others. She has teamed with Marohn to develop a business model. They don’t want others to have to go through the same nightmares they did to open their adult daycare.
They say more adult daycares are needed as Baby Boomers age and costs for care rise. It’s a good business opportunity because it’s inexpensive to start up, and there is a growing need for it, they say.
Margaret and Hans Stampfli of Marysville are taking care of her father, John Haberle. They both work, so they take him to the Katie Marie Adult Daycare and Respite Home.
“It’s a nice option. We’ve got so much other stuff going on,” Margaret said.
She said they looked into “memory care” for her dad, but it was $6,000 a month or more, plus insurance won’t cover it. They also looked into assisted living, but she thought her dad couldn’t quite do that.
“We like having him here with us,” she said of her family home with seven of Haberle’s grandchildren. But they need a break every now and then. And Stampfli said she likes that he gets interaction with others at the daycare.
“People decline more quickly if they don’t get as much stimulation,” she said. “When we can’t be here, it’s better for him.”
Marohn added: “We buy families more time. They entrust their loved ones to us during the day.”
Gaswint was only 46 when Devore was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Her biggest problem was with state government, especially the Department of Health and Human Services.
DSHS fined her $100 a day because she wasn’t licensed. She argued she didn’t need to be since she did not have an overnight facility. DSHS would show up at 9:30 at night to see if anyone was sleeping there, Gaswint said.
“It got ugly with the state,” she said, adding she was only doing what her husband wanted. “Maybe he can’t speak, but I can speak for him.”
“They have a right to stay in a home,” she said, adding when Rob McKenna became attorney general, the fines were rescinded.
She said the state should be happy with her business and others like it because these seniors now aren’t becoming a burden to the state to provide care for.
On the other hand, Gaswint said she received a lot of help from Marysville Mayors Dave Weiser, Dennis Kendall and Jon Nehring.
“What can I do to help you?” she recalled Nehring asking.
Keeping it open
Gaswint said she could have closed the doors to her daycare after her husband died. “But there’s too many people out there” who need help, “and the institutions are full.”
“I treat them like family, just like how I treated John,” she said.
Gaswint won’t take in anyone she can’t handle. “I assess clients to make sure I can meet their needs,” she said.
Gaswint reached out to Marohn for help about 10 years ago. “I was compelled to help her,” setting up a website and marketing for the new venture, Marohn said.
They lost contact for a number of years, but then were reunited last year. They became business partners and have developed a manual for Adult Daycare Business Development.
‘Start a movement’
At Katie’s daycare, she can have up to six clients. She serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. They do arts and crafts and make cookies. In December they make bags for the homeless. “They all help with something,” Gaswint said of her clients, adding they also make goodies for local police.
Her hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but she can be flexible. “My hours are their hours,” she said, adding if a family needs a break in an evening she can accommodate that.
Marohn said she may need such services in the future as her mom is 77. “For me it could be a saving grace,” she said.
She added that people don’t need a lot of change when they lose their mental faculties, so staying in a home is easier. They say taking care of the elderly is not respected in this country, the way it is in other cultures. But they think if there are more businesses like theirs, the elderly would get better care and have happier lives.
“We want to try to start a movement,” Marohn said. “It’s great for the community – the greater good.”