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Adult Day Program serves as a lifeline for many families

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Laura and Rosanne say their mother, Carol, enjoys attending the District's Adult Day Program.

Laura and Rosanne’s mother loves hugs. A mother of three and grandmother of six, Carol enjoys children and is an animal lover and proud cat mom.  Thriving on structure and very much accustomed to organizing her days and time, Carol’s dementia diagnosis now has her leaning on family for support.

Her daughters and their families have served as her caregivers since her husband’s death in 2021.  Spending one month at Laura’s house and the next at Rosanne’s, the daughters alternate caregiving responsibilities throughout the year with medication management, daily grooming tasks and reminders to eat regularly.  At this point in her diagnosis, Carol can’t be left alone.

Carol also attends the Camarillo Health Care District’s Adult Day Center (Center) several times a week. The programming in the Adult Day Center provides an opportunity for her to interact with new friends, participate in different activities such as arts and crafts, exercise and music while giving her family of caregivers some essential respite time.

The District’s licensed Adult Day Center is the only one of its kind in the Camarillo area and receives clients from throughout Ventura County. In 2014, the Center was expanded and redesigned with a person-centered focus and to reflect a home-like environment, with an open-concept living room, kitchen and dining area, game rooms, indoor gardening beds, gathering space with a piano for entertaining, and a special quiet space.  In 2015, the Adult Day Center received “Innovative Program of the Year” throughout the state of California from the California Special Districts Association.

The Center is a social model that focuses on providing socialization, mental and physical activities that can be enjoyable for everyone. The services provided at the Center serve as an essential support for many families who care for loved ones at home with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, brain injury and other cognitive impairments.

“The Center touches so many lives on a daily basis and we see that in action each time families refer other families to the Center,” Adult Day Program Director Mary Ann Ratto said. “It’s very heartwarming to hear families speak of the Center as ‘the greatest blessing’ and ‘so wonderful’.”

Staff are first aid and CPR certified, and enjoy ongoing training opportunities. Although staff have professional caregiving experience, many also have personal caregiving backgrounds. Director Ratto says having personal experience as a caregiver at home often provides staff with an even greater understanding of the stressors and concerns families might be experiencing.

Carol’s family attests to the benefits of the Center, not only for their mom, but for themselves as caregivers.

“I am proud of work for a District that truly cares for the community. The Day Center is just one of the many offerings that allows us to show support for our family caregivers and their loved ones.” 
Mary Ann Ratto, director of our Adult Day Program

“The Adult Day Care Center has given my sister and me some much-needed time to accomplish things for our own families without having to take our mom on every errand with us,” Rosanne said. “More than that, it has been an amazing physical and mental break from being a constant caregiver. I think it allows all of us, my mom included, to feel more peace in our homes.”

Being a caregiver is hard work -- physically, mentally and emotionally. “It is so exhausting to become your parent's caregiver when they have mental decline. It is not only emotional for the individual, but it is hard on your whole family,” Rosanne said. “Having my mom at the Center during the day has allowed everyone the space they need to accomplish life and then come back together refreshed and ready to enjoy each other's company.”

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The District’s Adult Day Center appears to be having a positive effect on their mother, a nurse for 40 years who devoted her life to caring for others. “She is so happy,” Laura said. “She seems more content with her downtime at home knowing that she has her group to go to. Honestly, if she could go seven days a week, I think she might.” Rosanne adds, “She has her own friends there and feels like she has a purpose outside of hanging with our families every day.”  “She loves to tell me and the rest of the family about her day. She seems proud that she has a topic that she can talk about and something that is her own,” Laura said.

A typical day at the center includes a morning coffee hour, a nutritious lunch and afternoon happy hour with snacks. Individual and group activities feature trivia questions, music, exercise, arts and crafts, and animal therapy. Guest chefs also pay a visit, providing cooking demonstrations while preparing meals for participants.

“Many activities and events are collaborative efforts with other community agencies,” Director Ratto said. “Thinking outside the box to come up with unique events allows us to offer amazing experiences for our participants.”

Like Rosanne and Lauren, Kathy is a family caregiver. Her husband, Bill, was diagnosed with vascular dementia six years ago and regularly attends the Adult Day Center, which also serves people experiencing decreasing mobility, isolation or loneliness. Bill enjoys the activities and thinks of it as a day camp.

“He enjoys the word association activities or reviewing facts about famous people and is impressed with what his fellow ‘campers’ know,” Kathy said. “I appreciate knowing he’s in a safe environment, socially stimulated and well taken care of.”

Kathy uses the time her loved one is at the Center to take care of her everyday responsibilities as well as her own mental health.  “While Bill is at the Center, I am able to see my friends, grocery shop, keep doctor appointments and go for walks. Walking is most important to me. It helps me remember to be grateful,” she said.

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Neither family can imagine what they would do without the Adult Day Program. They are appreciative for a service that allows them to care for their loved ones at home while providing an outlet for outside mental and social stimulation. 

Rosanne notes that throughout their lives, their mother Carol has been there for them and they are grateful that with help from the Adult Day Center, they can do the same for their mom during her golden years.

“Growing up, my mom was always the team mom or the scorekeeper or the homeroom mom. So many times, she has dropped everything to help her family, and now it’s our turn to help her. Even in the hard times as a caregiver, I try to remember that my mom would do the same thing and more for any of us. She has already done more for her family than we will ever be able to do for her.”

For more information or to schedule a tour of the Adult Day Center, please call Mary Ann Ratto at 805-388-1952, ext. 111, or reach her by email at

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