Seven years ago, Mae Ashburn refused to eat and wouldn't get out of bed.
The 76-year-old Brooklyn Park resident had just given up. She was tired of life.
"I was thoroughly depressed," Ashburn recalled. "I didn't want to do anything."
She spent time in a Baltimore hospital before her doctor suggested she enroll in a senior day-care program. Ashburn had gone to the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie a few times. But she had never seen a senior day-care center, until she joined the Woods Adult Day Care Center Inc.
It provided the right kind of therapy.
Now, instead of spending days languishing in bed, Ashburn makes birthday cards and serves lunch at the Severn center.
"This program has helped tremendously," she said. Ashburn, a petite, gray-haired woman, was relaxing in the cool shade of the center's courtyard. "I'm still quiet and shy at home. But here I'm not. What I like is that the people here are around my own age."
FOR THE RECORD - A story in last Thursday's Anne Arundel County Sun incorrectly stated which agency will pay for adult day care. Federal Medicaid benefits can be used to pay for such services.
Located behind Archbishop Spalding High School, the non-profit center provides a place for disabled seniors, who are not ready for nursing homes, to unwind.
"They do need 24-hour supervision," said Woods executive director Dorothy England. "We provide the care on weekdays, and their families or care givers provide it on nights and weekends. Very few of our seniors are living independently."
Seniors who enroll in the Woods program possess disabilities that include Alzheimer's disease, developmental disabilities and mental health problems. Some also have had strokes.
Some Woods seniors, like Ashburn, spend five days a week at the center. Others come only two or three days. Vans pick up those seniors who can't make it on their own.
A nurse and nursing assistant provide the medical care, administering medicine and taking blood pressure. The nursing team monitors each seniors' health, reporting any changes to their doctors.
Staff members also administer special exercise programs to stroke victims and help some seniors feed, dress and wash themselves.
"This is much more intensive care than at a senior center," England said.
But that doesn't mean that seniors don't participate in activities.
Woods provides a variety of daily activities, from physical education to arts and crafts. One day,for example, some seniors were shooting basketballs. Others were playing shuffleboard. Another group was making leis for an upcoming luau.
Mary Kagle, however, was taking a break from her morning activities. The 84-year-old Glen Burnie resident was sitting next to Ashburnin the courtyard. Like Ashburn, she was singing the center's virtues.
"This is just a wonderful program," she said. "It's done wondersfor me."
Kagle credits the day-care program with helping her regain her physical and emotional independence. Two years ago, Kagle couldn't even walk. Now, she's walking with the aid of a cane. She also moved back into her senior apartment after spending some time with herdaughter.
"Now, I feel more like myself," she said.
Delores Cooper, 61, also has become more independent since joining the day-carecenter. Although a stroke has impaired her speech and has confined her to a wheelchair, the Glen Burnie resident doesn't complain. Writing her answers on a note pad, Cooper said that she can dress and transfer herself from her wheelchair to her bed.
"She's very knowledgeable," activity leader Diane Ford said. "We call her the genius."
"It's true. She wins all the trivia games," Ashburn added.
But their leisurely chat didn't last long. It was time for other pursuits. The three headed indoors to play some games.
The three women are among 50 seniors who visit the center on any given day. Woods serves seniors from Brooklyn Park, Pasadena, Severn, Severna Park, Glen Burnie, Odenton and Crofton.
The center, which opened in 1974, is one of only three adult day-care centers in the county. The other two -- Fairfield Adult Day Care Center in Crownsville and Almost Family Adult Day Care Center in Arnold -- provide the same kind of care.
Fairfield is open weekdays 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The non-profit center accepts 35 adults a day and serves people from Annapolis, Crownsville, Odenton, Severn, Gambrills, Fort Meade, Millersville andCrofton. The fee is $45 per day. Transportation is provided. Activities include music therapy, arts and crafts, bowling, exercise classesand current issues discussions.
Almost Family in Arnold opened last January. It accepts 40 adults a day at a $48 daily fee. The centeris open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Center officials hope to provide Saturday service in October. The center offers transportation and serves people from Annapolis, Severna Park, Pasadena, Edgewater, Churchton and Arnold. Activities include shuffleboard, basketball, wordgames, art classes and sing-a-longs.
England, the Woods director,believes more centers will open as the senior population increases. "People are living longer," she said.
But Medicaid doesn't pay forsenior day care at Woods. And that keeps some seniors away.
"Somefamilies just can't afford it," she said. Woods, for example, charges $43.50 a day.
The center, however, offers seniors with low and moderate incomes financial aid through state and federal programs.
"The money is there for many who don't have the resources to pay," she said.
For more information on Woods, contact Dorothy England at 969-5710. For Fairfield, contact Nancy Baldree at 987-3251. For Almost Family, call Mark Saperstein at 626-8660.
Woods is sponsoring anopen house to celebrate National Adult Day Care Week today 2:30 p.m.to 5 p.m.