He's Got the Beat: At Wilder Adult Day Health, Pursuing a Passion Helps Promote Wellness
Greg Mitchell has rhythm. A longtime participant in Wilder’s Adult Day Health program, Greg is often seated at a drum set at the Wilder Community Center for Aging. He drums when other participants sing in the Adult Day Health choir. He drums with professional musicians who play at the center. He even drums when participants sing happy birthday.
In conversation, Greg mixes drum licks and beats with words when he describes his love for drumming. “It’s in my heart, you know, like boom boom boom boom,” he says, tapping his chest to the beat inside him.
At Wilder Adult Day Health, Greg has found a place to pursue his passion for drumming, manage his health conditions, and spend time with friends. The program helps older adults with memory loss or chronic health conditions maintain their independence while taking part in meaningful activities and developing healthy social relationships. “I enjoy every minute when I’m here,” Greg says. “It’s a fun thing to do.”
Adult Day Health Participants Increase Well-Being Through Art and Activities
Adult Day Health partners with professional artists to offer music, poetry, painting, pottery, dance and other activities. Every activity in the program is designed with the idea that people need more than medical care to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Through art and activities, Adult Day Health participants expand their creative and physical abilities, develop social relationships, and contribute to a vibrant community.
Many participants say they are not artists before they join Adult Day Health, but often they find a creative activity that sparks joy, says Janell Repp, a social worker for the program. “It gives them great satisfaction,” she says. “It makes them realize that they are artists and they have something to offer.”
A Wilder Research survey found that 98 percent of Adult Day Health participants and 100 percent of caregivers thought that the program activities added positive experiences to the participants’ lives. “You find out you can do things you didn’t know you could do,” one participant said in the survey. “There’s a broad spectrum of ways to express yourself. There is a very good teacher who helps you bring out your creative side and is encouraging. It’s a lot of fun.”
Center for Aging Provides a Place for Greg to Grow
Greg’s older brother taught him to drum when they were growing up, and he played in a band as a young adult. When Greg joined Adult Day Health in 2011, a staff member noticed Greg frequently drummed with his hands. He gave Greg a bucket to drum on during music. Someone provided a drum set for Greg to use, and staff helped Greg pursue drum lessons on his own. From there, Greg’s career as a drummer at the Wilder Community Center for Aging took off.
Greg says he is slowing down now, but he still plays drums as much as possible. To manage multiple health conditions, he works with a nurse, occupational therapist, and social worker at Adult Day Health. “Somebody always tries to make sure that I’m healthy,” he says. “They know if I’m not healthy and they’ll say ‘Greg, just take time and just lay off the drums for a while.’”
Though drumming is Greg’s passion, he has many friends at the center and also takes part in other activities. At home he enjoys watching television, listening to music, and playing on an electronic drum set. “What my heart tells me, I should do it, or try to do it as much as I can,” he says.
Wilder made the difficult decision to close our Adult Day Health program at the end of June 2020. Adult Day Health improved the quality of life for hundreds of older adults and adults with disabilities for more than four decades. It has been an honor to support community members who have entrusted us to care for them and their loved ones. We are grateful to our dedicated, compassionate staff, our selfless volunteers, our numerous community partners, and everyone who has played a part in making Adult Day Health a safe, welcoming place for participants and their families.