A Day in The Life: Liz McKay


Life Enrichment Coordinator, PACE and Adult Day Health Care

In her day-to-day work, Liz McKay uses your valuable donations of materials to improve and enrich the lives of our program participants. Your generosity has funded art and craft supplies, music, exercise equipment, holiday treats, games and much, much more, effectively improving their social connections, health, and wellbeing. See how Liz's day goes!

Recreational therapy is all about promoting leisure. No matter if you’re active, in a wheelchair or housebound, leisure is a positive outlet that can help reduce depression or anxiety and gives life meaning. So, I work with our Adult Day Health participants and our PACE clients to help them find what they enjoy doing and what brings them joy, whether it’s a simple, fun way to move or a creative outlet.


6:30 a.m.


I start with prayer, meditation, or reading something motivational to get my head in the right space, then I enjoy coffee and some time with my dog.


8:00 a.m.


I head into the office and start reviewing who will be in attendance in our Day Program, and who might need an extra touch. We know our participants well and know what engages them or what helps them if they’re having a rough day. I also plan for the assessments or reassessments I’ll need to conduct.


8:30 a.m.

I take part in an online meeting with the entire PACE care team to review each participant’s conditions, any concerns, and our plan for the day, and then I attend the meeting with the entire Adult Day Health team to prepare for the day there, review what happened the day before, and plan how we can create the best day ever for our participants.


9:45 a.m.

I often start the morning hosting an exercise class, to get everyone moving through in-chair exercises. I usually incorporate a little music and like to use the “Rocky” theme song to open the exercise class to liven things up.


11:00 a.m.

Late morning, I’ll lead a support group. Today we talked about aging and included a TED Talk by Jane Fonda called Life’s Third Act, and how to embrace it and find happiness in this stage of life. Other days, our "Name that Tune" group meets, which we offer in both Spanish and English. We play requests, do karaoke or sing together. Music is the number one thing that brings people to life and brings them together because it is so indelibly imprinted in our memory. I remember one new participant who was not verbal or engaged, but when I played music, she enjoyed she became engaged and started to dance.

Latin Senior women listening music with headphones at home in Mexico city, mexican people

1:00 p.m.

Our “Sweet Memories” group is designed especially for those with dementia or in need of low stimulation – it’s a quieter session with less distraction. We base our daily activity on the interests of whoever is in the group that day. One popular activity is matching up two people to share memories. We have two participants with Alzheimer’s disease, one of whom is anxious, but the other participant is calming to her because they can communicate and relate to each other in their own way. What they say might not make sense to you or me, but they connect and it’s so beautiful to see. Another participant needs to stay busy to feel useful and likes to organize, so we’ll have her organize cards or some other activity that makes her feel productive and content. Some enjoy word searches; a former accountant enjoys working on math sheets. It's all about knowing what brings them joy and purpose.


2:30 p.m.

When I go to meet with a PACE participant, my goal is to build engagement through their interests and goals. Our very first PACE participant, Frank, wants to learn to draw better, so when I meet him at home or at Adult Day Health, I’ll bring my laptop and we’ll search online for what he wants to draw. When he picks an image, I’ll print it out and he works on that drawing through the day.


4:00 p.m.

A new participant assessment allows us to get to know the participant and their family, what their day is like, what they like to be able to do which could be something they haven’t done in a while. We discuss how can we help make that happen. Afterwards, I’ll return to the office to review and update flow-sheets for each participant. We do this every day to make sure everything they and the team want to happen is happening.


6:00 p.m.

Leisure is just as important to me as our participants. I hike with my dog at least a few times a week, enjoy camping, playing pickleball, listening to audio books and belong to local scooter club.

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