University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 4/1996
New opportunities for students inside Newark Senior Center
     The Newark, Del., Senior Center-with its more than 1,800
members-has a new home, complete with an indoor pool, exercise
room, game room, library, cafeteria with stage and such artworks
as an original sculpture by Charles Parks, Delaware '50.
     The center also has an innovative health-care facility,
operated by the UD College of Nursing, and provides a wing for
the University's Adult Day Care Center. Both provide UD students
with unique outlets for study, research and volunteer activity.

                         Adult Day Care Center

     Finding a permanent home for the Adult Day Care Center,
operated by the Department of Individual and Family Studies in
the College of Human Resources, is a dream come true for director
Anne Camasso.
     Forty-two people are enrolled in the center, and, on any
given day, as many as 27 attend this program, which has a waiting
     The center's philosophy is to provide a therapeutic and
caring environment for seniors living in the community who are in
need of a structured environment during the day.
     The population of the Adult Day Care Center is composed of
frail adults with such serious conditions as heart disease. About
50 percent of the people suffer from some form of dementia.
     The center's atmosphere is nurturing, everyone is known by
name and everyone who wants to lend a hand is encouraged, like
the woman who suffered a severe stroke but feels useful rolling
the silverware every day in napkins for lunch.
     "Lots of the people who come here say they are coming to
work, coming to school, coming to their club," Camasso explains.
"It adds to their life experience. It gives them something to
talk about each day when they go home."
     Traditionally, clients at the center are just a few steps
away from nursing home care. In many cases, they come to the
center because the family members with whom they reside need to
work and are afraid to leave their elderly alone at home.
Sometimes, they come because the burden of caring for them leaves
families in need of a break.
     UD students play an important part in the center, working as
volunteers or for academic credit through courses in the College
of Human Resources' Department of Individual and Family Studies,
according to chairperson Marion C. Hyson.
      One student, for example, researched the management of time
and resources for families of those with Alzheimer's. Other have
developed programs presented to the clients and have planned and
carried out large- and small-group activities.
     "One student had the clients divide into small groups for
discussions of current events and how they relate to
history-maybe a discussion of today's elections as compared to
those of FDR," Camasso explains.
     In the future, Camasso says she hopes to have students help
develop ways to integrate the population of the Adult Day Care
Center into a few of the activities of the senior center.
     "Working with both populations would give the students the
chance to see the continuum. These folks don't need to be
ostracized. With a little help, many can fit into the general
adult population. For example, both groups already play bingo. It
would be nice to have a bingo game together some time.
     "It's the philosophy of inclusion, the idea that even when
people are very challenged, they need the very best environment
so they can participate as much as possible, she says."
                           The HEALTH Center

     Healthy Elder Adult Living Through Holistic Healthcare
(HEALTH) is the name of the health-care facility, which caters to
adults age 55 and over, offering full physical examinations,
comprehensive geriatric health assessments and screening,
counseling, education programs and referral services.
     Many Americans don't realize the pressing need for primary
care for elderly patients, Lucille Pulliam, associate professor
of nursing and HEALTH Center director, says. One survey gives the
national average for doctors specializing in geriatrics at 1.32
per 10,000 Americans. In Delaware, the average is 0.17, placing
it among the bottom five states in the nation in terms of
available geriatric physicians.
     Nurses prepared to work with the elderly also are in short
supply, Pulliam says.
     The HEALTH Center can help alter the course of aging in
positive ways, with improved prevention, detection and early
treatment of mental and physical illnesses and assistance with
such life-style changes as smoking cessation, she explains.
     A joint project among the University, the Newark Senior
Center and the city of Newark, the HEALTH Center is funded by a
$812,000, five-year grant from the U.S. Public Health Services
Division of Nursing, with in-kind staffing from the University
and space from the city. After two years, funds will decrease by
25 percent each year with the expectation that the center will
become increasingly self-sufficient.
     According to Peggy Corrigan, the center's advanced practice
nurse, "We hope the center will improve access to health care for
senior citizens in the area. They can come in for treatment of
anything from a sore throat to chest pain."
     Jean Raymond, an instructor in nursing and a general
clinical nurse specialist, and Lisa Plowfield, an assistant
professor of nursing, also are part of the staff, working with
Dr. Wayne Zwick, a geriatrician, and Margy DuVal, a licensed
clinical social worker.
     Raymond will be part of the center's Geriatric Assessment
and Intervention Team (GAIT), which will go out into the
community and make at least one home visit to patients for a
complete physical, emotional, social and economic status report.
     Plowfield is the program evaluator, responsible for
collecting data and for monitoring the impact of the center and
its programs.
     "A functional assessment within the home allows us to look
at a patient's daily activities. We can see how they function,
what their home environment is like. We can see how they navigate
around their homes, see if they need help meeting daily needs
and, with the social worker, look at things such as how they do
their shopping, how they pay their bills. We can check in the
refrigerator and see if they really are eating; we can review all
of their medications; we can urge them to come into the office
for a physical. It's all about how we can make their lives
better," Raymond says.
     Another aspect of health for senior citizens-mental
health-is addressed by a peer counseling program being
coordinated by Loretta Kilby, a retired nurse, and Elaine Greggo,
Delaware '96, a psychiatric nurse with a master's degree in
gerontological nursing. The program helps peers deal with the
many changes and stresses experienced by older persons.
     In addition to providing services to older adults, the
HEALTH Center also employs older adults. Anne Thomson and Jeane
Garner are support staff who help manage the details at the new
     Opportunities also abound for involving undergraduate and
graduate students from the College of Nursing and other areas of
the campus.
     "The nurse-managed center will provide undergraduate
students opportunities to assess age-related changes and to
compare the difference between normal aging and the effects of
disease as demonstrated by diverse populations in the center,"
Pulliam says. "It will provide advance practice (graduate)
nursing students opportunities to become experts on a broad range
of topics.
     "The center will provide students with learning
opportunities to meet the health-care needs of the fastest
growing segment of our population," she says. "By providing
practice opportunities for faculty, learning experience for
students and development of a database for research analysis, the
center can become a cornerstone of education, clinical practice
and research for the College of Nursing in the field of
                                              -Beth Thomas