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HERO CENTRAL: Downtown Cluster's Geriatric Day Care Celebrates The Elderly

2:03 PM, Oct 15, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) --- Americans are living on average up to 78 years old, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That means people are living eight years longer than the average person in 1970.

While people are living longer lives, the quality of life, however, may be challenged as people age.

One non-profit organization is dedicated to caring for the elderly by providing a safe and fun environment.  

The Downtown Cluster's Geriatric Day Care Center serves District residents 60 years old and older.

"It's like a family," said Ivril Grant, 71, a senior at Downtown Cluster's.

The non-profit geriatric day care center developed from the need of a safe environment for seniors to go and be active rather than face isolation.

"Seniors were literally being stripped of their identification left on the streets and in hospitals because the burden of caring was too great," said Thomye Cave, Executive Director of Downtown Cluster's.

Participants must be free from any communicable diseases in order to attend. Enrollment is free.

"Most of the people here do not have enough. Two out of three have incomes that are below the poverty level," Cave said.

Grant, an immigrant from Jamaica, joined Downtown Cluster's about two years ago through the recommendation of her doctor. She enjoys the serene atmosphere as well as being a participant in a game called Pig in a Poke.

"We enjoy ourselves together and it make you feel like you're alive and not sit there looking at the wall," said Grant.

The non-profit organization provides District seniors with an array of activities. They engage in physical therapy, occupational therapy, art therapy and workshops for those with Alzheimer's disease.

"We give seniors a new lease on life and attitude and action. We give them hope and we give them a place where they can feel safe and stimulated," said Cave.

Charles Thomas, 70,  joined Downtown Cluster's as a way to cope with his eldest brother's death.

"It helps me a lot to go through some of the tough times. It brightens my spirit up," said Thomas. 

The peacetime Army veteran looks forward to coming to Downtown Cluster's Monday through Friday. He actively partakes in the men's workshop in art therapy and physical therapy.

"We are a voice for those who are functionally impaired and we want to send a resounding message that they matter too," Cave said.

NOTE: Gannett Foundation has given a grant to the Downtown Cluster's Geriatric Day Care Center.

Written/Produced by: Elizabeth Jia
9NEWS NOW & WUSA9.com  

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