A rousing accordion rendition of “Give My Regards to Broadway” has me humming the moment I step through the doors of the Adventist Health Lodi Memorial Adult Day Care program at Hutchins Street Square.

As I follow the sound, I see happy faces and hear a chorus chime in with volunteer accordionist Rick Seely, something he’s done for 21⁄2 years, since his mother-in-law became a participant at ADC. Although she passed away in May, Rick and his wife, Julie, continue to bring joy to the participants, as well as homemade cookies.

Such dedication shows what comes from being participants at ADC — they and their families become part of the family.

A key factor to the success is Terri Whitmire, the program director who has been in charge for the 27 years since it started, equipped with only four round tables, 16 chairs, a typewriter and a book of regulations. Terri is cheerleader, advocate, leader and teacher, one who loves the people she cares for.

“They get spoiled,” she says, smiling.

She shows me around as Rick segues into “She’ll Be Comin’ ’Round the Mountain,” and voices rise in song again. The day room is colorful and homey, the walls decorated with handmade beach décor, including paper flip-flops.

The highlight is a bunch of birdhouses, made and painted by the participants, who paired up with the pre-K and kindergarten children from Camp Hutchins on the same campus. The old and young celebrate holidays and have singing parties.

The commingling of the generations is just one benefit. The comfortable facility invites people to take part. A large table is the stage for meals, snacks, entertainment, current events discussions, and games. If someone needs a break from the busyness, reclining chairs offer a timeout. A patio provides fresh air and a change of scenery. Terri even barbecues hamburgers occasionally, a big hit.

Becoming a participant has its challenges, not only for the attendee but also for the caregiver, usually a family member. But what begins as a scary process becomes something to look forward to. Terri says it takes five to seven visits to start feeling comfortable and get used to the routine, which includes mind and muscle stimulation every day to help the participants stay independent as long as they can, delaying long-term care placement.

And we can’t ignore the immeasurable value of socialization, which prevents depression and isolation.

The compassionate staff knows everyone well and are able to monitor and recognize health changes, then report them to the family.

Roadblocks can occur when participants balk at attending, often playing into the guilt that caregivers can feel when leaving their relative in someone else’s care. It’s hard to do, like taking your child to kindergarten for the first time, but caregivers handle their demanding roles much better if they get some respite themselves. Even a few hours of not having to tend to someone, getting errands done, or simply having time alone or to visit with friends benefits them.

A support group meets the second Wednesday of every month at 4:30 p.m. It helps to know you’re not alone in your journey to provide the best care possible to your loved one without hurting your own well-being, potentially lessening your abilities, physically and mentally.

As for costs, ADC is the only not-for-profit adult day care in the county. Licensed in-home care runs between $22 and $26 per hour. ADC charges $42 to $45 a day. Financial help is available through donations and San Joaquin County Department of Aging money as scholarships so that no one is denied participation.

Every dollar donated goes into the program, including the scholarships. Pre-assessment and registration is required.

If you’re contemplating ADC for your loved one, talk to Terri and see for yourself how beautifully run ADC is. In the entry you’ll find a rack with the current newsletter and calendar, a long list of the provided medical services, and help for caregivers.

As with the LOEL Senior Center, Adult Day Care sprang from the generosity, in life and death, of William Holz. These two facilities offer assistance to two different groups of Lodi’s population. I think he would be proud to know how well his brainchildren have done.

Contact info

Hutchins Street Square, 125 S. Hutchins St., Lodi, CA 95240; phone 209-369-4443.

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