To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living. —Henri Frederic Amiel, Swiss philosopher and poet (1821-1881)
Adult Day Care Centers are a care-giving option that Senior Moments hasn’t discussed recently. As many readers know, day care centers can be a wonderful solution, especially when your loved one is somewhere between senior independent living and an assisted living facility.
For various reasons, many seniors must live with their adult children who are often absorbed with full-time jobs, school and after-school activities for their own children, their personal interests and the demands of ordinary life. Adult day care centers give the caregiver a breather while providing a nourishing and fun-filled time for the senior. These centers offer a variety of programs and activities, such as fitness classes, educational discussions, classes through nearby community colleges, intergenerational activities and outings for special events. In many cases, participants can be transported to and from their home in the center’s van. (Most vans are equipped to transport people in wheelchairs.)
In my work with seniors and their families, I find that adult day care centers often provide just the perfect niche for giving needed assistance and yet allowing a senior to meet the overwhelming first-choice goal of most seniors—to be able to remain in their home, or the home of their choice, rather than going to an assisted living facility. If your family member or loved one is socially isolated or seems depressed, is frail, impaired or experiencing mild confusion, and is dependent on you for care and activities, an adult day care center may be just the right solution.
Many centers are fully staffed with a medical team to provide support for participants and caregivers. In Baptist Senior Adult Ministries day care centers, each center has a registered nurse to administer and supervise medications, monitor blood pressure and check weight. The centers also have a geriatric-trained social worker who works on behalf of the participant and the family, and who acts as a liaison between the family and community resources. There’s a program coordinator with a degree in recreational therapy and/or a related field and an activity staff that implements individualized therapeutic care plans through daily activities.
The National Adult Day Services Association, www.nadsa.org, is a great web site to learn more about this subject. They also have the feature “Find an adult day care center near you.” By entering your zip code, you can get a list of centers that belong to that organization.
In Maryland, all adult day care centers must be licensed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. However, as in every search for quality care, there are personal measures of quality that go beyond mere licensing requirements. It is a good idea to visit several centers and make an appointment to talk with the social worker, director, nurse or other professional staff to discuss your relative’s needs and interests. You will be looking for not just the highest quality of care, but for a program that is the best for your family member.
On visits to day care centers, you should satisfy yourself about basic safety issues and licensing issues. Beyond that, look at the environment and consider what kind of an emotional impact it would have on your loved one? The fanciest place can feel foreign and forbidding if accommodations are not made to meet the physical and emotional needs of its users.
Other questions to consider include: Are handrails installed? Are all spaces well lit? Is there a lot of natural light? Are there cues for finding restrooms and activity rooms? Is staff using the environment to promote independence? Are there provisions for privacy when needed or desired? Are there spaces where small groups can engage in simultaneous activities? Are displays and decorations age appropriate, suggesting respect for the adulthood of participants?
There is an adult day care center in Bowie, “Golden Age Adult Day Care Center of Bowie, Inc.” This center has a face book page with a wealth of information. They are members of the National Adult Day Services Association.
The Bowie Senior Center, 301-809-2300, hosts regular support group meetings for persons trying to cope with and care for their spouses who’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Thank you for reading. Stay well. See you next week