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Family Questions Why Ohio Senior Day Care Centers Remain Closed

Cleveland resident Paula Morrison takes care of her 86-year-old mother, Lucille who, has dementia.

“It seems like I’m working two full-time jobs now. We get up and everyone has to get bathed and clothed. And normally she attends the adult daycare, but right now with COVID the adult daycare is not open,” Morrison said.

While many businesses in Ohio have received the green light to reopen, one exception is adult daycare.

These are facilities for seniors to go during the day when family caregivers are at work or taking care of other responsibilities

Morrison is currently working from home, so, though challenging, she can take care of her mother. But she doesn’t know when that may change.

Paula Morrison is trying to navigate how to care for her mother, Lucille, while the senior day care center remains closed. [Paula Morrison]

Morrison is wondering why Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has not addressed this issue.

“My question to Governor DeWine is, 'you've talked about the opening of hair salons, barbershops, retail, but you haven't spoken specifically about adult day care services,'” she said. "'When can we expect for adult day care services to resume?' People are going to have to start going into the office and not be able to just work from home."

DeWine’s office said in an email statement that adult day care centers remain closed at this time.

“We are still working through potential safety issues regarding these facilities. These would be congregate setting(s) of our highest risk populations,” according to the email.

Before Ohio’s stay-at-home order, Morrison’s mother was going to the Eliza Bryant Village Center every weekday, she said.

The Eliza Bryant senior daycare has not received any communication from the governor’s office or the Ohio Department of Health about when it can reopen, said Jeanna Davis, senior care director.

However, Davis said she is anxious to resume services.

 “We are losing approximately $75,000 or more per month by not serving seniors,” she said.

According to theNational Adult Day Service Association, there were nearly 5,000 centers operating in the U.S. providing care for 150,000 recipients each day. 

Although Davis is ready to open and get her staff back to work, she is also conflicted because she is worried about how to open safely.

“These are nursing-home eligible seniors with either some type of cognitive impairment or physical impairment,” she said.

“A lot of our seniors will not understand why they can’t share their meal with their friend. They are not going to understand that they can't walk down the hall holding hands. It's going to be hard,” Davis said.

There are about 45 to 50 seniors who normally use the service daily. In addition to overseeing their care at the center, Eliza Bryant also provides transportation. It would be difficult to make sure the seniors are wearing masks and socially distant on the bus trips, she said.

Morrison said she does not use the van to get her mother to the center. Normally she would drop her mother off each day on her way to work in downtown Cleveland.

Her mother’s health is also suffering from the loss of the daily routine of going to the center, Morrison said.

“She is a dementia patient. They live off of routine, having a specific routine. So that set routine of getting up, doing what we need to do to get out the door has been broken, and I can see that she's become more of an introvert where she's not having a lot of conversation as she would if she were at the center," she said.

Morrison has reached out to group chats on the internet to find support as she tries to weave her way through social service agencies to try and find an answer to her problem.

She is also hoping her employer will be understanding, when they ask her to return to the office.


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