About a decade ago, a nurse I know tried to start an adult day care center in my town. I thought it sounded like a good idea, though I wasn't sure there was a market for it. I'd contracted some in-home care for my uncle and mother-in-law, and enough nursing home care for several family members- but adult day care was a new concept for me.
My friend's efforts with the day care failed, perhaps because, like me, no one was familiar with the idea. When I asked her about it afterwards she said she was "ahead of her time." She now owns a franchised in-home care business.
News.inquirer.com recently ran an in depth article titled "Adult day- care booming." One of the day cares they interviewed referred to themselves as "a best-kept secret."
I think that secret is now out.
Several nursing homes in my area have started adult day care services. Several of them also have child day care centers which allows for the generations to mix to some degree. One new adult day care is billing itself as the only free-standing adult day care in the metro area. They say that this makes the elders that go there feel like it's more of a day outing to a resort or a special event, rather than a day trip to the nursing home. Likely, for some, this is true.
There are many good things about adult day care besides the obvious factor, that it is less expensive than a nursing home or in-home one-on-one care. When intensive nursing care isn't needed, but an elder can't safely be left alone during the day, having an elder try adult day care is smart.
Much of what elders need is social stimulation. This is something they can get at a day center. Many of the centers (each is unique, so services vary) are set up to bathe the elder, do foot care and even provide physical therapy and some nursing care.
Many elders have diabetes, and should have their food and their medication monitored. Except for that one problem - which can be major problem for those who are alone - the elders are quite healthy. This is a situation where a day care can come in handy. The adult day cares would provide the supervision these people needed, and the rest of the time, the elders can play cards, swap stories, do art and/or craft projects, music - whatever they enjoy. They have people to watch over their health and safety with the addition of social stimulation. And they get to go home in the evening.
Aside from providing the elder with a safe and stimulating environment, the hygiene care and food monitoring can relieve the adult child, or whomever the primary caregiver is, from these responsibilites and allow them to visit with their elder in a more relaxed setting at home. The elder will have something to talk about from his or her day other than "I'm bored and lonely."
Adult day care doesn't come cheap, but as I mentioned earlier, it is under most circumstances cheaper than nursing homes or the same number of in-home care hours. Much depends on the facility and the services it offers. If it's mostly social, obviously it should be less expensive than a day care that gives your loved one a spa-type bath, tends to those tough toenails, and has a trained therapist guide exercise events. Every area of the country is different in pricing, also.
Day cares are less regulated than nursing home care. However, regulated or not, I am always adamant that the family drop by, from time to time, no matter who is caring for your elder. Nursing home, assisted living, in-home care or day care - we need to check up on how our elder is being cared for. It just makes sense. We must never forget that our elders can be very vulnerable.
I also wish we could find a better name for adult day care centers. Most people, including our elders, read "day care" and think of child care. But day care is what it is, and what this type of elder care will likely be called. If adult day care provides good care, some fun, and safety for the elder, then what it is called will fall by the wayside.
If the name bothers you and your loved one, make up your own name - call it "the club". Regardless, consider trying it if you have a quality day care in your area. Most are short-term commitments, so you can try it and if it doesn't work, you can try another option. Hopefully, it WILL workout, and you can put off full-blown assisted living or a nursing home for a little bit longer.
Published On: October 18, 2007