Keiro first explored the possibility of providing adult day programs back in the 1990s. Adult day programs can provide both social and health and wellness support to older adults in their local communities. They primarily serve those living at home, ensuring that they have activities and meals, and decreasing risk for isolation. They also offer much-needed respite for family caregivers.
While adult day programs have now become more common, back 30 years ago this was not the norm. There were only a few places that provided such services. At the time, Keiro’s leadership recognized that they were serving only a small percentage of people through facility-based care and wished to expand their services to older adults who were aging at home. This resulted in one of Keiro’s first steps to increase services to the wider community.
Partnerships and collaboration were key to making this a reality. With help and support from Dr. Jim Yakura and the generous Wintersburg Presbyterian Church congregation, the first Keiro Adult Day Center opened at their church in Orange County in 1999. Keiro Adult Day Healthcare Center opened in Torrance the following year.
The two centers served many local older adults by arranging for them to be picked up and dropped off at their homes, providing lunch and snacks, and offering engaging activities catered to those with varying health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, etc.
One of the biggest challenges Keiro faced was the community’s unfamiliarity with the concept of adult day programs. Kanako Fukuyama, who was the activity coordinator for the adult day center at the time, shared, “I think adult day centers back then, in 1999, were innovative and challenging. I say challenging because at the beginning, the feedback was, ‘Well if my mom can stay home watching TV all day, why does she have to go to day care and spend money?’ So we had to change that mentality, that the center not only provides a safe environment, but also stimulating activities, opportunities for socialization, and most of all, support for caregivers. We had to do a lot of education over the years.”
After operating for a number of years, the two centers closed in 2003 and 2006. The model was a bit ahead of its time, and there were few sustainable business models available. However, despite the closure, they became a stepping stone for Keiro to continue expanding its programs for the vast majority of older adults who want to, and do, live at home.
In 2006, Keiro established The Institute of Healthy Aging at Keiro, which promoted healthier lifestyle choices, preventative care, and community education on how to age well – since studies showed that 70% of healthy aging depended on lifestyle and only 30% on genetics. The expansion of Keiro’s reach to the general community began in the early 2000s and continues to this day.