A Place to Go: Adult Day Care

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Think back for a moment to when you first realized that your elderly loved one had major needs and their lifestyle (and maybe yours) was going to change. You might have exposed yourself to all kinds of services that help take care of the elderly. That could have been an overwhelming moment. One in which you focused on the minimum level of support for your elderly loved one. This is how many families approach support for the elderly–they tiptoe into eldercare waters while they adjust to their “new normal” with their elderly loved one.

After ensuring the physical needs of your elderly loved one, you realize that filling the day with activities and interactions with others becomes a bigger need both for your elderly loved one and for you. As you work to balance their needs, your work, and family obligations, the idea of an adult day care may be part of a solution to how to fill a day with meaningful activities in a safe, supervised environment.

Of course, the phrase “adult day care” can be upsetting because it only goes to reinforce the image of your adult parent becoming an infant and having to be treated as such.
So, when you work with your elderly loved one to find a place they can spend time at during the day, don’t refer to it as an “adult day care.” Instead, focus on what the program offers your loved one. You may even find places that provide similar services, but are referred to as senior activity centers.

The best way to find the right adult day care situation for your elderly loved one is for both of you to take a tour of what is available locally and make the decision together. Spend some time generating a list of questions before you go.

Some questions to include:

  • Do they provide transportation? How does it work?
  • Do they have qualified medical people on hand should any sort of problem arise?
  • How many participants are there on any given day?
  • Do they provide food and beverages if the stay is all day? Are their food services sensitive to diet issues if your elderly loved one is diabetic or has other diet restrictions given by a doctor?
  • What are the costs?

For your elderly loved one, the activities that the day care center offers will be a big part of their willingness to go there. During football season, if the center just provides a place to cheer for the game or have other sports programming available, that can be a lot more fun than sitting alone and watching those same sports. Or, if the day care center has a variety of activities that are appealing, such as card games or puzzles, it could be an upbeat and fun place to spend the day.

Finding a good day care center for your elderly loved one can take a big load off of your shoulders. And, if you know they are having fun as well as interacting with people, there may be additional benefits such as better eating and sleep behaviors.