Northwest NEWS

October 15, 2001

Features

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Need for Adult Day Center underscored

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   Robin Totonelly is a Woodinville mom. She has two children, already young adults, born with a rare genetic syndrome, both with physical and developmental delays. She is no different from you or me. She wants the same things everyone else wants for their loved ones: a dignified life, for them to feel worthy, to feel joy.
   But Totonelly is a realist. She knows her children will need extra help as they become adults if they are to have any kind of a semi-independent life, if they are to have that dignity, that worthiness, that joy she hopes for.
   The fact is, Totonelly is not alone. The Northshore area has hundreds of people with disabilities, people with cerebral palsy, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, mental retardation, autism, epilepsy, dementia, those living with the effects of stroke. They, too, need extra help and support to have the best quality of life possible.
   So for those 18 and older with disabilities, and for their caregivers, a Northshore Adult Day Center is being proposed. The proposition will appear as a bond measure on the Nov. 6 ballot and would provide $3.9 million for the acquisition of land and construction of a 19,000 square foot adult day center to be located on the northeast corner of 102nd Avenue Northeast and East Riverside Drive, in Bothell. The facility would include, among other things, nursing, therapeutic activity, exercise, nutrition and transportation areas.
   Levies are expected to be less than $.03 per $1,000 of assessed value, or approximately $6 per year for a $200,000 home for the 20-year term of the bond. The facility would be owned by the Northshore Park and Recreation Service Area taxing district (which has the same boundaries as the Northshore School District) and would be operated by the Northshore Senior Center. Planners project the Center would serve 6,000 people annually, a number that would double in the next 10 years.
   Northshore Senior Center Director Marianne LoGerfo said, "Right now we have two little makeshift programs with waiting lists, operating in borrowed space. We can't adequately serve this increasing population without an adequate facility. What's needed is a secure facility, for wanderers; people with Alzheimer's tend to pace. Every year we hear stories with tragic consequences about Alzheimer's patients who wander away. And we need a place with shower facilities for those with incontinence. Personal hygiene becomes more and more an issue as dementia increases. We need an exercise facility that has the appropriate equipment for those with disabilities and a place for occupational therapy so that people can relearn to function. We need a place where people can come together. And caregivers need a safe place in which their loved ones can be well cared for while the caregivers themselves are off attending to business or their own needs," said LoGerfo.
   Totonelly's children need exercise, like everyone else. She said, "They aren't able to join a health club. They aren't able to play on a team. But they can have their own sports activities adapted to their own level." She sees the Northshore Adult Day Center as providing a place for their recreational activities. "They need something to look forward to, to keep their minds and bodies active, to enhance the quality of their lives."
   Now and as they age, Totonelly wants her children to be a part of the community, not shut-in at home. "We don't want them to finish school and that's it." The Adult Day Center could supply the extra help and support (not to mention, transportation) they need to remain social, to participate in little outings like going to the movies, shopping at local stores, or going to a restaurant.
   Debbie Rannfeldt, Special Education Parent/Professional Advisory Council board member for the Northshore School District, knows a 21-year-old man with cerebral palsy who is in a wheelchair, who doesn't speak. "He just finished school and had a job lined up but the job was cut. Now he's at home with his dad everyday."
   Rannfeldt said people like her young friend "need companions to chat with, to do things with. Without them, it is not a meaningful life." The Center would give people like this young man "a chance to interact, a chance to have some joy," said Rannfeldt.
   Linda Packard of Seattle has an 81-year-old mother who lives alone in Kenmore. Her mother has lived in the area since 1954 and hasn't wanted to move out, "... even though all her friends have moved away," said Packard. Her mother has memory problems that she won't admit to or doesn't recognize. "She goes places and doesn't know where she's been. If she had a place to go to, a place to make new friends, and maybe a chance to go on little day trips - because that's what she likes - at least I'd know where she was, that she was being supervised. It would be a help to my aunt who is 79, too. She worries a lot about my mother," said Packard.
   LoGerfo said that with the passage of the bond, the Northshore Adult Day Center would be serving between 250 and 400 people a day, seven days a week.