If you are caregiver you may be struggling with exhaustion, frustration, and depression. You may be feeling that you have little support from friends and family and feeling that people do not understand the difficulty of what you do. Let’s face it; most people wouldn’t unless they walked in your shoes for a week. If you are a typical caregiver you are alone and it’s not easy. Given that, you need every break you can get. Fortunately, Adult Day Care can be one of the best weapons in your arsenal. There are very few opportunities for you to get a break, so you should never pass up a chance to take one.
There are two general types of adult day care programs. One is based on a medical model and the other on a social model. The medical model provides comprehensive medical, therapeutic, and rehabilitation day treatment. The social model offers supervised activities, peer support, companionship, and recreation. Both models assist older adults and those with chronic conditions to remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible.
Adult day care is a planned program of activities designed to promote well-being though social and health related services. Almost exclusively adult day cares are only open during the week, typically between 8am and 3 or 4pm. They provide snacks in addition to a midday meal.
Adult day care offers a win/win situation for everyone in the family—not only for the member who attends the program, but also for the family member who has primary responsibility as caregiver. Adult day care provides a much-needed respite for the caregiver, affording a break from the physical demands and stress of providing “round-the-clock care.”
For the participant, adult day care’s benefits can be extensive:
- a safe, secure environment in which to spend the day
- enjoyable and educational activities
- improvement in mental and physical health
- enhanced or maintained level of independence
- socialization and peer support
- nutritious meals and snacks
For the caregiver, adult day care’s benefits are equally important:
- time for routine chores like shopping and banking
- make time for one’s owns medical and dental needs
- time for personal rest and recreations: exercise or naps
- opportunity for household tasks and cleaning
A well-run adult day care center’s goals will focus on enriching the participants’ lives, building upon their skills, knowledge, and unique abilities and strengths. Below are some of the activities that may be available:
- Arts and crafts
- Musical entertainment and sing-a-longs
- Mental stimulation games such as BINGO
- Stretching or other gentle exercise
- Discussion groups (books, films, current events)
- Holiday and birthday celebrations
- Local outings.
Besides recreational activities, some adult day care centers provide transportation to and from the center, social services including counseling and support groups for caregivers, and health support services such as blood pressure monitoring and vision screening.
Finding the right one for you
The National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) recommends you start by asking yourself what specific services both elder adult and caregiver most need. For the day care participant, are social activities primary? Assistance with walking, eating or medications? Mental stimulation? Exercise? As a caregiver, is support what you need most? Some free time? Answering these questions will help you determine which type of adult day care center can best serve you: social or health-focused.
In addition to the many references and resources to help locate adult day care centers in your area, you can also try:
- Your family doctor
- Local social services or health department
- Mental health centers
- Local senior center
- Area Agency on Aging (Call 1-800-677-1116 for the AAA in your area)
- Yellow Pages listings under Adult Day Care, Aging Services, Senior Citizens’ Services, and similar categories.
When you phone the center(s) you’ve chosen to consider, NADSA suggests asking the following questions:
- Who owns or sponsors the agency?
- How long has it been operating?
- Is it licensed or certified? (If required in your state)
- What are the days and hours of operation?
- Is transportation to and from the center provided?
- Which conditions are accepted (e.g., memory loss, limited mobility, incontinence)?
- What are the staff’s credentials, and what is the ratio of staff to participants?
- What activities are offered? Are there a variety of individual and group programs?
- Are meals and snacks included? Are special diets accommodated?
Next, spend a day at the center that sounds best to you, so that you can get a “feel” for the people and environment. Be sure to bring a site checklist with you (see references and resources below). You may wish to go back a few times to see whether your experience on different days confirms your initial impressions.
To find out more about the specific adult day care centers where you live, you will want to contact your local aging information and assistance provider or area agency on aging (AAA). The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the Administration on Aging (at 1-800-677-1116 or http://www.eldercare.gov) can help connect you to these agencies.
The National Adult Day Services Association is a good source for general information about adult day care centers and programs. They can help you link to a state adult day care association. It can be reached by calling the toll-free telephone number 1-866-890-7357 or by going to http://www.nadsa.org.
- Some area agencies on aging (AAA) have programs or link to services that assist older people obtain low-cost assistive technology. You can call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or visit the website http://www.eldercare.gov to locate your local AAA. In addition local civic groups, religious and veterans’ organizations, and senior centers may be able to refer you to assistive technology resources.
This is just a synopsis of a much longer ebook which will be included in my newsletters. You can find out more by checking out http://easycaregiving.com
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