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Daycare keeps seniors, young, active and sharp

By Lauren Von Drasek

Picture received from Young at Heart's Facebook page. Photo Credit: Valerie Hutchinson

Chicago suburban senior day care, which offers the opportunity for seniors to attend field trips and participate in daily activities, will celebrate its fifth birthday in March. (Photos Young at Heart’s Facebook page/Valerie Hutchinson.

COUNTRYSIDE — In March 2011, Young at Heart came up with a different method for dementia care; a daycare center where seniors can be in a safe environment during the day, and go home to their families at night.

Dementia is defined as, “a progressive brain disease that causes problems with memory, reasoning, behavior and motor skills,” according to curealz.org.

Every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops a form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, Approximately 5.3 million Americans suffer from the disease. Senior daycare facility Young at Heart was opened to help make the lives of dementia patients and their caregivers easier.

The Alzheimer’s Association also states one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, the predicted costs to taking care of seniors suffering from dementia will cost the country trillions of dollars. Taking care of a loved one with dementia is emotionally exhausting as well.

Business owners Sandy Pedretti and Valerie Hutchinson opened Young at Heart with one goal; helping as many people as they can.

“I just want people to know we’re there and not always about the money. You do need financial gain, but we do a lot of things that really help the clients to make their lives easier. No matter what the situation is, we make it work,” Pedretti said.

Young at Heart is located in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, at 6504 Joliet Rd. in Countryside.

According to Young at Heart’s website, clients can take advantage of various services, such as an exercise program, spa services, vital signs monitoring, and massage therapy.

Socializing is shown to improve symptoms by keeping the brain active. At Young at Heart, clients have the opportunity to interact with a group of at least 8 to 10 other clients per day, as well as with employees.

Clients had the opportunity to put pies in each other's faces to kick off summer.  Photo Credit: Jorie Miller

Clients had the opportunity to put pies in each other’s faces to kick off the summer season.
Photo Credit: Jorie Miller

Employee Jessica Miller enjoys making the seniors happy and watching them work together.

“Seeing them being able to interact with each other gives me a warm feeling inside of happiness,” Miller said.

Throughout the week, clients engage with one another while partaking in various board and card games, crafts, and “mind games” such as word puzzles and flash cards to review math. A crowd favorite is playing Bingo every Friday, where clients have the opportunity to win prizes and enjoy one another’s company.

Clients are not just limited to activities within the facility. Throughout the past five years, field trips to the Brookfield Zoo, Shed Aquarium, Hershey’s Factory, and apple picking are only naming a few.

Even though the facility is there to help seniors, employee Lorraine Hummel feels they have helped her as well.

“They have helped me with my patience and have made me very compassionate toward seniors,” Hummel said.

Interacting and solving puzzles creates brain stimulation as well as a great opportunity to socialize by helping one another.  Photo Credit: Jorie Miller

Interacting and solving puzzles creates brain stimulation as well as a great opportunity to socialize by helping one another.
Photo Credit: Jorie Miller

There is no cure for any form of dementia, however, Young at Heart helps them live an enjoyable life.

“I think we’ve made them happier and people don’t know right away what to think of it, and then light up. They feel like they belong again somewhere,” Pedretti said.


Young at Heart’s Fun On and Off-Site












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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.