When Buddy McFarlin, 77, of Little Rock started coming to Millennium Adult Day Care in Little Rock last October after his wife of 38 years died, program director and owner Shay Stevens didn't know if she'd be able to help him.
"He was so depressed and would just cry, so lonely, isolated. The first day, I just wondered, 'My goodness, can I handle this,' because I never saw someone agonized so deeply. He is so in love with his wife," Stevens, 39, said. "Now that he's with us he's happy. He laughs, he dances, he participates, he leads some of the activities with the group."
Stevens dubbed McFarlin as the "poster child" of her adult day care -- at 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road Suite B -- but he is just one of several success stories since she opened in July 2011.
"I've liked being over here and away from home instead of staring at the four walls," McFarlin said.
The day care provides a place for seniors to go to prevent having to be placed in a nursing home while using activities to "stop their progression of (their) disease process," Stevens said.
"I've always had a passion for keeping people at their maximum level of function," Stevens said. "I thought this was a good way to keep people independent or give them back their independence."
Stevens, who attends Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock, said the name "Millennium" is rooted in her faith.
"(It) refers to the 2,000 years when Christ came back to the Earth to rule over the devil," Stevens said. "So it's 2,000 years of Christian prosperity which is why we chose the name to tie into my religious beliefs."
The day care is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and currently has 12 clients that come various hours of the week, even overnight. At least four hours is the requirement, but longer hours are determined by Medicaid.
The day care, which currently has three paid staff members and three volunteers, not only provides meals, various board games and exercise activities, but has outside services that come, including a masseuse, a hairstylist and the Little Rock Zoo mobile, bringing everything from snakes to small monkeys. The services are included in the program's price.
Doctors, social workers and law enforcement also come speak to the clients on various topics. Though many services are provided, Stevens said she likes spending downtime with the clients.
"I learn so much," Stevens said. "I get lessons on finance, I take mini vacations in my head when I listen to their travels, relationship advice, recipe advice. These people carved the way for me, I'm humbled with them."
The day care has three large rooms that can cater to clients with different needs.
Virginia Jordan, 86, who lives with her daughter and son-in-law in Little Rock, said she enjoys playing kickball -- where the clients sit in chairs and kick a ball around to each other -- but the best part of coming to the day care is knowing she is giving her caregivers a break.
"It gives the people (you) live with freedom to do what they want to," Jordan said.
Stevens said her clients range in disabilities from blindness to dementia, but the requirements to be a part of the program are the ability to sit up and to take their own medication, which is supervised by the staff. The minimum age to join the program is 18.
Stevens grew up watching and helping her mother, Marlo Stevens, a registered nurse, with her own health agency in New Orleans. Marlo Stevens, who relocated to Arkansas with her family after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said she enjoys working with her daughter at the day care.
Marlo Stevens, 66, said she credits her daughter's caring nature to her Catholic faith.
"I think it's really the sense of social justice you get from growing up in a Catholic religion," Marlo Stevens said.
For more information about the program, those interested can call (501) 414-8698 or visit http://www.millenniumadultdaycare.com.
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