Todd Goodman is 82 and partially confined to a wheelchair by a stroke, but he's not in a nursing home. Instead, he's going back to school - to the former Madison Elementary School in Arlington that's been renovated to become the Madison Activity Center for Older Adults.

This Arlington program is the dream of Dr. Helen Hackman, director of human resources for the county. She says that rehabilitative day care provides "a new lease on life" to elderly people who cannot be left alone. It also gives relief to the responsible relatives, usually middle-aged offspring.

Mrs. Goodman says that her husband, a former executive with the YMCA, needed to get out and be with people, and "it's helped me as much as it has him." He attends two days a week and,among other things,co-edits the monthlynewspaper, "The Madison Monitor."

As a result of his stroke Goodman speaks softly and with some difficulty, but he has made progress with the help of the speech therapist at Madison, Patricia Mitchell. Goodman recently rejoined his monthly Arlington Kiwanis meeting, which he has attended for 26 years. Ruth Ullom, supervisor at Madison, spoke to the Kiwanis meeting, and Goodman was able to participate by answering questions about the center.

"It meant a log to me to be able to go back," said Goodman.

The 47 people who come to Madison Between two and five days a week are from age 53 to 87. Many have physical disabilities, and most have "some degree of confusion," according to Ullom, a registered nurse who is supervisor of the center.

The day begins with a light snack, prepared by some of the participants.They do morning exercises, with help; some participate in reality orientation groups, and all choose from activities such as discussing Ann Landers' column, oil painting, sewing, writing, ping-pong. Shuffleboard, croquet and horseshoes.

But it's not all recreation at the Center. The staff includes two registered nurses, a mental health worker, physical, speech and recreation the therapist, and three aides. All the participantes - theword "patient" isn't under - require some help.

Cathy Dechellis, mental health worker, said the goal is one of getting them to "relate to each other, to become more aware of the real world around them. These are small successes, but they're important."

To the families, the successes don't seem so "small". When Nelda Barber first heard that her mother could go to Madison, she thought, "But what will they do with mother?"

Her mother, Ola Sawyer, 75, a stroke victim and a diabetic, slept "practically all day," and her daughter had been "thinking of a nursing home."She started at the center in October, and has improved markedly.Now she doesn't have time for the optional nap after lunch. She's regained her sense of humor, enjoys the discussions and even goes to the dances.

Betty Armstrong, whose 79-year-old mother, Katherine Padgett, goes to Madison two days a week, says, "It's the best thing Arlington's come up with in a long time."

County residents pay $.50 each way.

Information on the center is available atTransportation is available to Arlington residents fro $1.50 each way.

Information on the center is available at522-226.