Family caregivers often juggle work, parenting, and other obligations in addition to looking after an elderly loved one. Adult day service programs provide respite for weary caregivers and offer alternatives to higher levels of care. Before considering formal in-home services or assisted living, learn the advantages of adult day care for your senior. It might just offer the peace of mind you need.
What is adult day care?
The National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) describes adult day care as “a coordinated program of professional and compassionate services for adults in a community-based group setting.” This allows older adults to remain in their homes and familial caregivers to enjoy life outside of their nurturing duties. Adult day care can provide socialization and activities, health care assistance, or a combination of both. Nearly 5,800 adult day service providers in the United States serve over 287,000 participants on any given day.
What services are offered?
Many adult day care programs focus on socialization and mental wellbeing. Specially trained staff may offer art and musical activities, bingo, light exercise, book clubs, and even field trips to local attractions. Activities tailored to a senior’s unique abilities and strengths support cognitive function and enhance self-esteem.
Nutritional needs of seniors in adult day service programs are met with meals and snacks to accommodate special or restricted diets. Other services may include transportation, personal care assistance, and support groups for caregivers and their families.
Adult day care programs may also cater to seniors with medical needs. A staff of nurses, personal care assistants and therapists offer a wide range of support. Non-urgent health services include dispensing medication and screening for hearing, vision or blood pressure issues. Acute medical services such as wound care, tube feeding, tracheostomy care or physical therapy are also available. Specialized adult day service programs can focus on specific conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Receiving healthcare support in an adult day care setting is safe and structured. Seniors and their caregivers will also enjoy the less clinical and more homelike environment.
Are adult day care centers regulated?
As the adult day services industry grows, more attention is paid to accountability and standard of care. Adult day service programs are regulated at the state level. Stringent standards of quality must be met before a license is granted including staffing levels and training, facility maintenance, and cleanliness. A center may be licensed for day care or dually licensed in day care and health care. Dual licensed programs will be able to monitor and provide care for those seniors beyond services offered in a standard day care setting.
Operational hours are normally Monday through Friday during normal business hours. Very few programs offer evening or weekend care. The average capacity of adult day centers is 40 with a staff ratio of 6:1.
Are adult day service programs expensive?
Daily fees for adult day services will vary according to level of service. The nationwide average is about $69 per day for about 8-10 hours of care. Compare this to the average daily cost of in-home care at $126, assisted living at $120, and skilled nursing at $235 per day. Medicare may cover part of the cost of adult day care, especially when medical services are provided. Financial assistance may also be available from private insurance, other governmental, or non-profit organization sources.
When should I consider adult day services for my elderly loved one?
An adult day service program is a great option for a senior who:
- Feels isolated and would enjoy companionship
- Cannot be left safely alone at home
- Is no longer able to handle their own daily activities
- Lives with a caregiver who needs to be away from the home a few hours or more for work or other matters
- Is mobile but may need assistance with ambulation
- May have cognitive issues but does not require 24-hour supervision
What are the benefits of adult day care?
There are important advantages to utilizing adult day care for your senior.
- The environment is safe, so caregivers do not have to worry about the security of their loved one.
- Adult day care allows caregivers to spend time at work or leisure activities. This leaves them feeling better about their role as a caregiver.
- Caregivers avoid burnout by maintaining an important balance between responsibilities and self-care.
- The activities support both mental and physical health of older adults, and this can delay decline in cognitive function or prevent falls.
- Adult day services can save you money when compared to other care options.
Adult day service programs are a welcome alternative to in-home care or assisted living facilities. This community-based approach benefits both the caregiver and senior’s mental and physical well-being. Most importantly, it allows seniors to avoid an institutional setting and stay in the comfort of home. More information about adult day care programs can be found at the National Adult Day Services Association website.