I had no idea what it was all about either when I started caring for my elderly parents. Since they had dementia, rather than Adult Day Care, I was advised to enroll them in Adult Day Health Care, as the professionals there are trained to work with dementia patients.
I desperately wanted to give my parents a life outside of being in bed all day, "just waiting to die," as Dad would always say, but I had no idea how I’d convince them to go. I couldn’t get my father into the shower-so how in the world was I going to get him to consent to go there?
Unfortunately, no one gave me any creative ideas on how to get them there, so I suffered at home with them for nearly a year. Finally at my wit’s end, I decided I just had to figure out a way.
First, I went for a tour of the beautiful center nearby, and then pleaded with my father for weeks on end before he begrudgingly gave in and consented to go. My mother was fine with it right away, but my father was bound and determined to sabotage the whole thing.
I was so embarrassed after their first day when the staff told me they had spent the entire day trying to manage my father, as he wouldn’t leave my mother alone–holding onto her too tightly and touching her inappropriately (which he had never done). Then, he threw his lunch on the floor during a terrible temper tantrum and even tried to escape out the bathroom window. When I arrived to pick them up, the staff was completely exhausted and sincerely doubted he would ever accept attending–they hoped!
Well… if I had to do it again, here’s what I’d do: First, I’d have Mary (one of the social workers) call my father a few times and develop a relationship with him over the phone. Then I’d have her "drop in" with some cookies, because she just happened to be "in the neighborhood." I’d have her ask my father if he could come to "The Center" (never calling it Day Care) to help with something–like the bingo, lunch, or the singing classes. Perhaps he could even play his accordion to entertain the seniors there. By giving him a "job" and telling him he was needed there–he’d have been honored to go help out and may have consented to go sooner.
But, if that didn’t work… after taking my parents out for a drive one day, I’d casually stop by The Center and say, "Oh look where we are. Why don’t we drop in and say hello to Mary, who was sweet to stop by the other day?" Of course, I’d have an appointment set up to take a tour and meet the staff and other seniors. I’d have Mary ask him for his help with preparing lunch for everyone, as he loved to cook, and then I’d have her ask him if he could look into fixing something for her, as he always prided himself on being able to fix things. I’d also have Mary ask for Mom’s help folding the laundry-one of her favorite tasks.