Mature adults find fun and companionship at Durham centers

Lola Gillis visits the Durham Center for Senior Life often. While there she enjoys activities such as coloring and other arts and crafts. (Staff photo by Dajia Graves)


Durham is known for being a vibrant, active community and that holds true for its mature citizens as well as its younger ones. The Durham Center for Senior Life and CAARE, Inc. meet the needs of the community in different ways.

The Durham Center for Senior Life was founded in 1949 to enhance the lives of seniors through education, recreation, nutrition, and social activities.

DCSL has four facilities in Durham, with the main one located in downtown. This facility is separated into two sections, one for the only Adult Day Health Center in North Carolina and the other providing a welcoming social atmosphere for independent seniors.

The Adult Day Health Center offers a therapeutic program for mature adults with special needs. The program is primarily geared towards seniors, but also aids non-senior adults with special needs.

Jackie Brown, the director, oversees the program with her 20 years of experience working with elderly people.

“Our program has a social component as well as a health component, but it is limited for population, because most of our seniors are not independent,” Brown said. “The social component is directed by our activities director where they have daily activities.”

The Adult Day Health Center has 52 participants and the program runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“We want to make sure that we are getting information out to caregivers, because most of time it’s the caregiver that is in desperate need to bring their sister, mother, dad or spouse to a safe haven in the daytime where they can participate while their loved ones are at work or maybe just need a rest period during the day,” Brown said.

The facility is staffed by six certified nursing assistances, five program assistants, and two permanent registered nurses.

Brown said the program is currently seeking volunteers in the area to help out.

DCSL has a revolving door of over a thousand seniors utilizing the activities offered in the organization.

“I like coming here, I meet a lot of people and you learn a lot,” said Lola Gillis, a senior participant.

DCSL offers numerous activities such as aerobic classes, art and crafts, Spanish classes, computer courses and group board game activities.

Lorene Saunders said she likes the aerobics class, the people are friendly and she learns a lot through their programs.

Healing with CAARE Inc. at 214 Broadway St. is another community-based organization and service provider offering supportive services to individuals living in Durham and Durham County.

CAARE offers several daily activities throughout the week for individuals to participate in. They offer fitness, a variety of dance classes and health education.

Kaye Sullivan, a former N.C. Central University artist-in-residence of Drama, instructs a line dance class every Thursday.

“I can tell you this organization offers more support and health more than any place I have worked in,” said Sullivan.

CAARE Inc. is open and free to the public, and they also offer a food pantry for individuals in need.

These Durham organizations know and practice what experts agree on: that keeping mature adults active improves their cognitive and physical health as well as their overall quality of life.

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