Picture It. Boonsboro 2021. Your mother has been living with you for the past year since having a bad fall. You have always worked from home so it’s very convenient, you can work and still keep an eye on her. However, a new position has just opened up within your company and they’ve selected you as the perfect fit. It’s the opportunity you’ve been looking for but there’s only one problem. You have to go into the office at least twice a week, sometimes for long hours. This means you no longer have anyone to stay home and take care of mom. You need someone who can take care of her while you are at work but you also would like for her to be able to socialize with other people her age. She loves to do crafts and play games so it would be great if she can have a place to do that too. You start looking online and learn about Adult Day Programs for senior citizens. And one program in particular catches your eye….
When you were a small child, you most likely had at least one parent who worked. That meant that there was always someone home with you during the day. But if both parents worked and there was no one around to babysit, your parents would usually put you in a daycare program. A safe place where you would be taken care of, fed, looked after, and able to socialize with other people your age until your parents could get off of work. What happens when you reach school age but your parents still have to work? Same thing. Your parents place you in an after school program where you are looked after and taken care of until they can get off of work. But what happens when someone is well beyond school age? What happens to the elderly when they are no longer able to look after themselves?
Sometimes in life, it works out that children end up taking care of their elderly parents. Either the parents live with them or the children check in on them at least once a day. But, because everyone has to deal with this thing we call life, sometimes the children have to go to work or have other priorities. They need help looking after Mom or Dad. Their parents are still fairly independent so there is no medical need for them to be admitted into a long term care facility. However, there are a multitude of reasons why it is not safe for them to be home alone. It can be as complex as Mom’s mind is starting to wander and she’s known for leaving the stove on when she lies down for a nap. It can be as simple as Dad just sits in the living room all day until someone comes home and he’s in desperate need of fellowship so that he doesn’t become depressed. Much like parents with young children, caretakers need a safe place for their loved one to go where they can be taken care of, fed, looked after, and able to socialize with other folks their age. This is where Adult Day Programs come in. An Adult Day Program is similar to an adult daycare. It’s programming that supports the physical, emotional, and social needs of an adult for either the short term or the long term. Adults are either dropped off or picked up and brought to the facility and spend the day doing a multitude of Activities that help to strengthen their cognitive and motor skills and allow them to socialize with others in a neutral setting. There can be videos, food, games, food, music, food, theme parties, food, anything and everything someone would need to have a good time. (Did we mention food?). Ultimately, Adult Day Programs are great for the resident but they are especially useful for caretakers because, while capes and tights are always in fashion, even Superman needs a day off once in a while.
So, when Superman needs a break, who does he call?
Each week, we will be highlighting a member of the Fahrney Keedy Family to learn a little bit more about their life and career. They will be offering a unique perspective on their role as well as advice for those considering a career in senior living.
This week, we get a snapshot into the life and career of Amy Rebert Schmidt, Director of Adult Day Care Services/At Your Service:
Where did you go to school? What was your major? “I went to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a focus on Adult Development. I then went to McDaniel College and got a Master’s degree in Gerontology.”
When did you know you wanted to work with seniors? What drew you to your current position? “My first job in high school, I worked primarily in their dementia unit serving meals. That was really my first exposure to working with the senior population and I really enjoyed interacting with the residents. I went to college thinking I would be an elementary education major. However, after enjoying my time working with seniors as a dietary aide, I decided to switch gears. Before coming to Fahrney Keedy, I was working as the Director of an Adult Day Center in the Baltimore area. I moved to Greencastle, Pennsylvania in the fall of 2018 and I knew that I would soon start looking for a new job. I enjoyed my job there, but the hour plus commute every day to and from Baltimore was not something I wanted to do long term. When I saw that Fahrney Keedy was building a brand new Adult Day Care Center and looking for a director- I jumped at the opportunity!”
What brought you to Fahrney Keedy? “The startup of the new ADC program brought me to Fahrney Keedy. I had worked in the ADC industry for 6 years prior to coming to Fahrney Keedy and the idea of being a part of their new venture was exciting! There have been ups and downs for sure, but I have enjoyed getting to build the program alongside my team. I’m excited to see the program grow!”
Do you have a favorite memory from your time spent working here that you would be willing to share? “Early on during my time here at Fahrney Keedy, I was asked to take the lead with the At Your Service program, the in-home companion care program providing services to seniors in the local area. While this at times has been challenging, I can honestly say that some of my fondest memories while at Fahrney Keedy have been while I was helping to provide care for At Your Service clients. There was a period when I was out in the community almost every day working with clients. I would often see the same folks every day. This allowed me the opportunity to develop said relationships with them. Lots of great conversations while cooking meals or helping with personal care needs or grocery shopping. Now that I am no longer out in the community with At Your Service, I truly miss these clients.”
This pandemic has been hard for everyone but especially those individuals working in healthcare. How did you personally get through it? “From a work perspective the pandemic was challenging for me because, per the state of Maryland, all adult day programs in the state had to close. This mandatory closure lasted for a year! Fortunately, I was able to help in the At Your Service program so my days stayed busy but I missed my Adult Day Center clients! When we finally reopened this past spring, we no longer had some of our original clients, so that was hard. On a personal note, I met my now husband during the pandemic, so it wasn’t all bad for me! He helped brighten up a lot of the dreary, stressful days that came during the pandemic. Lots of phone time and face times with friends and family also helped me keep things in perspective and keep moving forward during the most frustrating days of the pandemic.
Oscar Wilde once said “with age comes wisdom”. What advice would you give to your younger self? “Stop worrying so much. You don’t add any days to your life by worrying – you only waste time you currently have. Enjoy every moment with your family and friends. Time goes too fast.”
And, last question, why should someone choose to join the Fahrney Keedy team? “Fahrney Keedy has been a great place to work for me. I have amazing co-workers that have made dealing with the ups and downs of the job so much more bearable. Fahrney Keedy has a great reputation in the community, and I believe that is well deserved. The staff is caring and makes the extra effort to provide quality care. If there are any problems or issues, they are addressed. I’m proud to be a part of the team!”
Five Second Pose!
We asked Amy five rapid fire questions to get to know her a little better:
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Movie: The Count of Monte Cristo
Favorite Disney Character: Simba from The Lion King
Favorite Superhero: Superman
Favorite Actor, Age 65 & Over: Liam Neeson
1 Fun Fact: Amy has been to Ethiopia several times over the past few years. She loves the people and the culture.
Thank you so much to Amy Rebert Schmidt for sharing! Stay tuned next week when we add another photo to our Family Album!