The Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Center works diligently to support elderly veterans

By: Yvonne Napolitano, Executive Director

The Susan J. Rheem Adult Day Center (SJRC) is located in rural, Prescott Valley, AZ. SJRC is the only adult day health program in northern AZ and is just one program of more than 5000 adult day health centers across the nation. SJRC provides therapeutic, personalized care services for those having varying chronic illnesses and disabilities including but not limited to, Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia, diabetes, physical/cognitive impairments like traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, developmental disabilities, and mental illnesses.

SJRC is proud to be serving veterans which are approximately 50% of its daily attendees. Thanks to the late founding SJRC Executive Director Susan J. Rheem (1947-2010) and her advocacy efforts at the national level in the 1980’s, thousands of veterans across the United States have the opportunity to receive adult day health services under a VA funded contract. Typical care services include medical monitoring, personal care, activities and outings, nutritious meals, social services and transportation.

Sadly, in 2017 due to the Prescott VA system budget constraints, the SJRC contract was cut. This led to veterans having a decrease amount of services days or non-approval of services days at SJRC and no transportation to and from the center. Prescott Valley, AZ is a rural area in Yavapai County and lacks public transportation. In Yavapai County there are over 27,000 veterans of the over 500,000 veterans total across the state of Arizona. The percentage of veterans residing in the county is at 15.3% which is higher than the state total average of 10.1%. (www.factfinder.census.gov) 

Lack of care for veterans can often lead to events including re-admissions to the emergency room or hospital, isolation, depression and suicide. The typical veteran seeking services at SJRC is the veteran who:

  1. Has memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia and live at home in a stressful situation with an aging caregiver or children who are working full-time.
  2. Suffers from PTSD and lives alone.
  3. Lives in a VA foster home or care home that has physical needs met but unmet community socialization and recreational needs.

One veteran’s wife stated “The programs and activities (garden, tours, music, and art) stimulate and encourage the best health for my husband Don. My utmost thanks and gratitude for all you do.” Jeanie shared that Don typically isolated himself and by attending the day center he was able to make friends and socialize with both veterans and non-veterans alike.

Veterans, their families are the SJRC staff is grateful to DVNF for their support during this time of need. The DVNF grant will fund the SJRC veteran scholarship program for care and transportation of current veterans who have lost funding, assist those veterans unable to start services due to financial constraints, and lastly, support the families of veterans who are the 24-hour caregivers by providing them respite.

To learn more about SJRC go to www.adultcareservices.org or to learn more about adult day health programs go to www.nadsa.org.