Friday, March 28
GREAT BARRINGTON — Her dad needed a day to dress up and socialize. Her mom, meanwhile, just needed a break. So Karen Hutson, a referral specialist for Fairview Commons, started taking her 78-year-old dad to work one day a week.

Hutson's father, Carl Champigny of Monterey, has Parkinson's disease, and is one of eight "clients" who attend Fairview Commons' Adult Day Health Program during the day.

After the day ends at 4 p.m., Champigny goes home to the care of his wife Norma.

While taking part in Adult Day, which meets from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday, Champigny gets the benefit of a social circle, Hutson said, and her mother gets a well-deserved rest.

"It's as good for the caregiver as it is for the (client)," she said.

Not the same

The "bad part," according to program director and registered nurse Barbara Cartinelli, is having to convince seniors that participating in Adult Day isn't the same as moving into a full-time care facility.

"They don't want to walk into a nursing home," Cartinelli said. "Then they say, 'maybe I'll do it to please my family.' "

Clients may come to Adult Day one to five days a week, and the program costs $45 a day.

Open house

In celebration of its sixth anniversary, Adult Day will be hosting a craft fair and open house on Sunday. Clients will be selling their wares: Pies, knitted goods, candies, plants, jewelry and more — all made in the art room at Adult Day.

One client, Mary Comarato, 84, lives with her daughter and son-in-law in Egremont and attends the program five days a week, while the kids are at work.

"It helps me get out of the house," she said. "Who wants to stay home alone?"

Adult Day offers nutrition and exercise programs, religious services and impromptu political discussions," Cartinelli said.

"Sometimes (the discussions) can get pretty heated," she joked.

Beth Schoonmaker, the activities director, emphasized that Adult Day was created for the caregivers, who are often stressed to the limit by the demands of caring for a disabled family member.

"If the caregiver (tires out), the people they're caring for are in trouble," Schoonmaker said.

Seated in an easy chair in the corner of the room is Marty Graham, 82, of Great Barrington. Graham, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, can no longer speak.

When Betty, his wife of 61 years, enters the room, his eyes light up.

It's 3 p.m., Betty's work day is over at Catherine's Chocolate Shop, and it's time for Marty to go home.

"He loves to come (to Adult Day), I know that," Betty says, as she helped her husband put on his coat. "This is the very best thing for him. Even without any communication, I know."

To reach Jessica Willis: jwillis@berkshireeagle.com, (413) 528-3660.

If you go ...
What: Adult Day Craft Fair and Fairview Commons Open House

When: Sunday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Where:151 Christian Hill Road, Great Barrington

Cost: Free

Information: Call (413) 528-7120 to learn about the Adult Day program