Center offers retirement program for disabled seniors

May 31, 2012 10:22:14 AM PDT
The developmental disability population is aging. Many have 'retired" from their jobs. The biggest concern is finding programs that will accommodate them.

Young at Heart at Sertoma Centre in Alsip is one program that offers a range of services to meet the different challenges faced by seniors with developmental disabilities.

"We actually have a specific area and program where we work to transition a person from working age to being a retired person," said executive director Gus van den Brink. "They would be able to, instead of working in the workshop, they may choose to go to the workshop and work one day but then the rest of the day they're in recreational, other types of activities just like you might see in a senior center."

People with developmental disabilities are also faced with the same 'aging' medical conditions as those without disabilities.

"Some individuals get Alzheimer's, some of the individuals have greater physical problems they may need more personal care just like when you and I get older, we have things happen and we need assistance in different areas or may have to go to the doctor and need certain things that we didn't need before and it's the same for people with disabilities."

People who participate in the young at heart program can come one to five days a week to take part in cooking classes, bingo, computer, art and exercises.

Linda Zehner is 61 and comes in five days a week.

"I come up here and I do the puzzles," she said. "I even do a little art and everything."

Sertoma' is concerned about the future of this population.

"We 're concerned about the finances because there is a great need for people and to need to get services for people who are getting older and living longer," van den Brink said. "The finances are difficult and the governor currently wants to cut, I think it's $2.7 billion in Medicaid expenditures and our services are primarily funded through Medicaid."

To learn more about Sertoma Centre's Young at Heart program, visit www.sertomacentre.org


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