An increasing number of Americans are facing the responsibility of caring for their aging relatives. Many working caregivers find their options are limited. They become frustrated as they search for a safe setting for family members who are frail, disabled, suffer from depression or memory loss. As a result, older adults remain socially isolated at home. They may have trouble walking, using the restroom, getting nutritious meals and taking medicine without assistance.
One of the best-kept secrets in healthcare is an adult day center. In 1978, there were only 300 adult day centers in the United States. According to The National Adult Day Services Association, the number of centers has grown to more than 4000. As our population ages, they prefer community based alternatives such as adult day centers.
For Caregivers, Adult Day Centers Offer:
- Respite and relief from the responsibility of 24 –hour caregiving
- The opportunity for caregivers to remain employed
- A cost effective alternative to institutional placement
- Reassurance that a loved one is safe throughout the day
For Participants, Adult Day Centers Offer:
- A chance to get out into the community to remain active
- An opportunity to enhance their quality of life through socialization and recreational programs
- A positive way to prevent isolation and boredom
Adult Day Centers may offer participants nursing care, therapy, nutritional meals and snacks, family counseling, support groups, podiatry, transportation and hair salon services.
Individuals who benefit from an adult day center may suffer from physical limitations and/or memory loss. For example physical limitations may be related to strokes, arthritis, osteoporosis, vision impairments or hearing loss. Individuals with memory loss may have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Vascular Dementia or other types of Dementia.
A typical day at the center may include current events, reminiscence, trivia, exercise, art, music, pet therapy, gardening, cards, guest speakers, outings and much more. In order to meet the needs of working caregivers, many centers have extended hours. Some are open on weekends and may offer overnight care.
Staff members in a day center should be trained in dementia care and must have expertise in assisting disabled adults with ambulation, transfers and incontinence care. At many centers, a registered nurse is available to provide health monitoring, blood pressure and glucose checks, medication administration and nutritional counseling. Case managers play a critical role in helping families assess their individual situation. They develop an individualized plan of care to meet each participant’s physical, social, emotional and financial needs. In addition, they may lead caregiver support groups, provide individual counseling and coordinate volunteer programs.
Under certain conditions, Medicaid Waiver Programs, long-term care insurance or the Veterans Administration may provide funding for participants. Private pay rates range from $30-$70/day. Transportation is usually an extra charge. Some adult day centers provide sliding scale discounts to qualified participants. The average cost per day is much less than 1:1 home health care and about half the cost of skilled nursing facility care.
A common concern of caregivers is the fear that their loved one will resist attending a center. Change is difficult for everyone. It is imperative that you give your family member ample time to adjust to this new routine.
By Risa Levovsky