Caregivers Susan Thompson and Doug Amussen said they received devastating news on April 30.
“Doug called me up and said, ‘I’ve got bad news, they are closing the doors today,’” Thompson said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
“She kept saying, ‘this a joke, right? This is a joke.’ Unfortunately, it wasn’t a joke,” Amussen said.
They said the beloved Cache Valley Adult Day Center temporarily closed its doors two weeks ago, which displaced up to a dozen elderly people, including their aging mother, Colleen Amussen.
Thompson and Amussen said they have been taking care of their mother since January after she never fully recovered from a surgery. They said they have had no intentions of putting their mother in a nursing home regardless of the 24 hour care that she has needed. Instead, the siblings personally took care of their mother until they discovered the Cache Valley Day Center.
“She didn’t want to go the first day, but since that time, she’s loved it,” Thompson said.
Bringing their mother to the day center was such a relief for them as well as their mother, until it closed, she said.
Jason Smith was the music therapist and program coordinator for the center. He said the issue arose because of a technicality with the Internal Revenue Service; the Cache Valley Adult Day Center had lost its non-profit status.
“The non-profit status is really important,” Smith said. “It doesn’t change the way we do things in terms of how we provide care. But it makes it so that those that provide grants and money, that’s a big requirement. They want to see that there is a level of altruism to your organization.”
Smith said that the organization was not aware of the mishap until it was too late.
“The IRS has told us that they had sent us a letter. To our knowledge, we never received it. But, there’s no arguing with the IRS,” he said.
Smith said the board is working to remedy the issues with the IRS as quickly as possible.
“In the meantime, we have lost some grant funding that we could have used to keep things moving at the day center,” he said.
Regardless of the closure, Smith is volunteering his time to help the center get back on its feet again to help caregivers like Thompson and Amussen.
“I had offered to work for a month or two or whatever we needed to do without pay, just to keep things moving along,” Smith said.
He dedicates his free time to the adult day center because he says he's seen the fatigue and the worry in the faces of members’ caregivers.
“They are sacrificing in a way that I can’t fully comprehend,” Smith said. “I can’t let them down.”
To Smith, day centers are very important, because they fill a need.
“I think that they are going to grow in a very noticeable way across the United States as our population begins to age,” Smith said.
First and foremost, Smith said the center benefited those who attend the program.
“We try to stimulate those that come and provide social interaction, music therapy – of course -- and as much as we can do to make them fell like their old selves again,” he said.
LaRue Willis was a member of the day center, and said the center did just that for her as she visited twice a week before it closed. The day center gave her a chance to be a part of a community again.
“Today was one of the days that I would have gone, but my day looks kind of empty,” Willis said.
In addition to the personal benefits of those who participate, Smith said that the services the center provided were also valuable to caregivers.
“Caregivers can feel very confident in the fact that their loved ones are being well taken care of,” he said. “They can walk away with a clearer mind and either get rest or run errands.”
As a caregiver, Amussen said taking care of a person always takes its toll.
“You have another family and you have other responsibilities,” he said. “It’s not easy. It made such a difference for us to have her be able to go to the day program, it gave us a little time to be with our family.”
Thompson and Amussen said they look forward to the re-opening of the center because they are back to 24-hour-care with their mother.
“We get a CNA to come in three times a week to bathe her,” Thompson said, because a bath is all Medicare covers for their family.
Smith said he's not sure when the center will re-open, but he can only hope that it will open sometime in May.
“The center needs a certain amount of money and get commitments from various clients that we have and make sure that we can be up and stable,” he said.