Adult Day Care Programs Benefit Older People and Their Caregivers

Adult Day Care Programs Benefit Older People and Their Caregivers

Adult day care programs are ideal for seniors who have physical or cognitive challenges, but don’t require 24-hour supervision.

Ruth knew that something had to change. Her mother, 81, was not getting around as well now, but insisted on living on her own. Ruth looked in on her whenever she could, but worried about her safety and her being alone all day.

Most older adults prefer to stay in their own home for as long as they are able. But what if that person gets confused, has trouble moving about or needs medication reminders?

The surge of older adults living on their own has spurred a demand today for programs to assist them. Many need help with routine tasks, but are not frail enough to need institutional care.

Adult day care is ideal for those who have physical or cognitive challenges, but don’t require 24-hour supervision. This might include those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, people who need help taking medicine or adults who are isolated. The goal is to get the person out of the house and into a safe, supportive group setting.

Varied activities keep participants active, social and mentally alert. An adult day program may provide:

  • Nutritious meals and snacks
  • Transportation to and from the center
  • Health support services (e.g., blood pressure monitoring)
  • Social events like holiday parties or sing-a-longs
  • Personal care, such as help with toileting
  • Recreation and games, including exercise
  • Functional assistance and therapy
  • Counseling and support groups for caregivers

These programs may be the best solution for caregivers who don’t want to place a loved one in an assisted living facility. Beyond the benefits for the senior, caregivers can get a much-needed break or can care for a relative while holding a job.

Types of adult day care

People in day care must be able to get around on their own or with the help of a cane, walker or wheelchair. In most cases, they must be continent as well. Beyond that, there are three program types to consider.

  1. Social day care is for those who only need minimal help.They are not up to planning activities themselves, but can enjoy organized day trips, group discussions or crafts. Some may come solely for the friends.
  2. Adult day health care provides some of the same activities, plus skilled nursing and rehabilitation for medical problems. A health assessment is required before being admitted, and fees are higher than for a social program.
  3. Specialized day care offers services for groups with specific problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease or developmental disabilities.

Adult day programs operate during business hours. How many days you attend is usually flexible. Some may be open evenings and weekends, too.

Finding an adult day center

To find an adult day center near you, ask your doctor, an area senior center or your local area agency on aging. You can also contact Eldercare Locater at:

Visit a few centers and get a feel for the staff and activities. Once you choose a program, give the older adult time to adjust. Sometimes seniors resist at first, but then come to love it in a few weeks.

Medicare does not pay for adult day care, but some private medical and long-term care insurance policies cover a portion. Medicaid will often pay most or all costs for it if you qualify and the center is licensed.

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