By Deborah Bostock-Kelley

To assist with the ever-increasing need for the socialization of seniors, TLC Adult Day Care and Recreation Center has expanded and remodeled its location in Oldsmar, enabling the adult day care to accommodate more part-time and full-time members.

“When people come in for a tour, they will be really impressed by the layout and our work; and we’re proud of it.”

With a background in senior healthcare for over 25 years and owning a Medicare-certified home health agency for 18, Tom Wingo knew that a critical need was not being met for seniors and their caregivers. He founded TLC Adult Day Care and Recreation Center with his wife and two daughters to give seniors a fun place to socialize while giving their caregivers downtime and an opportunity to recharge and, during this time of the year, prepare for the holidays.

“In December 2019, we took the leap of faith to open an adult day care center because the need was so great in Tampa Bay.”

Tom temporarily closed for safety during the pandemic. When Covid vaccines became available, he was overwhelmed with caregivers seeking a safe and fun place for a loved one recovering from surgery, a stroke, or dealing with the early signs of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s, or those that simply want to meet new friends and have fun.

Caregivers begged Tom to reopen as their loved one had begun to physically and cognitively decline, getting depressed, watching television, or sleeping all day during the pandemic. Caregivers noted that as soon as their loved ones returned to TLC, they began to thrive again. Since then, there has been an explosion of new caregivers seeking this type of resource. 

“Here, they have the interaction, the socialization, and the therapeutic activities to keep their memories sharp and to keep them physically active.” 

TLC features a bilingual staff and a home-like atmosphere, with planned hourly activities alternating between active and non-active. TLC offers an adult day program for half-day up to five hours and a full-day up to nine hours, 8 AM to 5 PM, making it flexible for the caregiver. Saturday hours are planned to begin in December. Members enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack approved by a registered dietician. 

“Adult Day Care is for someone who wants to live at home, or their caregiver wants them to live at home and have a safe place to come for the day to have fun, meet new friends, enjoy therapeutic and educational activities, and age-appropriate fitness programs,” he said.” It’s so important for the caregiver to be able to take a break. Caregivers suffering from burnout and exhaustion need to take care of themselves first so they can take care of their loved ones. Caregivers often experience guilt and feel that they should be ‘doing it all.’ Seeking help does not make you a failure. Actually, quite the opposite. Seeking help benefits both you and your loved one.” 

Nicknamed ‘The TLC Fun Club,’ TLC is about socialization and making friends.

“There’s different types of socialization. For example, some of our members can’t verbalize very well, so they listen and love interacting with others through the different activities. They want to be part of a group having fun. Even if they have difficulty, there is still socialization without speaking. We have something for everyone. For us, it is all about our members having fun. It’s a party atmosphere. We try to have a party for everything. Ultimately, we fail if they don’t walk out with big smiles. That’s the key – for them to have a wonderful day, meet new friends and have fun.”

Seniors transitioning from surgery and in-patient hospitalization to returning home may need someone to look out for them. TLC is a safe place for them to recover while meeting other seniors, staying active, and making sure someone assists them.

During admission to the center, each member completes an activity and social history assessment to determine what they used to or currently like to do.

“A lot of caregivers are like, ‘my mom would never do that,’ and after a few visits, ‘I can’t believe my mom loves that.'” 

Therapeutic activities include seated indoor volleyball, bean bag toss, giant Yahtzee, chess, dominoes, darts, arts, crafts, singing, dancing, armchair traveling, Zumba, Tai Chi, yoga, foosball, a drum circle, ice cream socials, birthday parties, non-alcoholic happy hour, monthly themed events, and so much more! The center also features a relaxation Zen lounge complete with a waterfall, Himalayan salt lamps, and relaxing music for members who need a break from the many activities.

Members regularly resist leaving at pick-up time. It’s not uncommon to hear phrases like “my daughter is here already? I’m still playing dominoes with my friends.”

Tom explained that many people don’t even know adult daycare centers exist. He offers a complimentary one-day “VIP Guest Pass” to introduce potential new members to the center. 

“That is the key – getting the word out – that this place is here. It is incredible, and many people don’t know about it. There’s help here. If they’re not appropriate for our center, we can help them find another alternative. It may be time for assisted living, memory care, or maybe even other options,” he said, “We get a lot of responses when people hear about us, ‘if only I had had this when I was taking care of my loved one. I could have used what you do.’ We want people to know we are here for them and their loved ones.”

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TLC Adult Day Care is located at 3970 Tampa Rd., Suite J, Oldsmar. To learn more about TLC Adult Day Care, visit  https://www.tlc-adultdaycare.com/ or call 813.510.4000.