Adult Day Services
In the morning, Homer often wakes up before his daughter, Alice. As soon as Alice gets up, she gives Homer a sponge bath and dresses him. Homer is a sharp, happy 93 year-old, even though he is in a wheelchair now. He hurries through his breakfast and is out the door before Alice can do the dishes – he’s wheeling himself down the sidewalk to the adult day care center near his home. He can’t wait to play dominoes with his buddies until lunchtime, when he and his friends will all enjoy a meal together.
Staying home can get boring, especially if a person isn’t able to get around as well as they used to. Watching TV alone isn’t much fun. On the other hand, the Baby Boomer generation is discovering as they age themselves that many of them are caring for aging parents and it’s a tough job. They need a break. All the while, money seems to be scarce for every household. Surprisingly, adult day care centers can be a solution to all of these problems.
An adult day care center, also known as adult day services, is like a community center for those 60 years and older, as well as those over 18 with disabilities. These centers are non-residential and offer nutritional and social support from professional staff in a group setting. The downside? There is a fee for this, but it is a lot less than the alternative of long-term care or a nursing home which can cost five times as much. So Homer drinks coffee with his friends and looks forward to the mid-morning snack at the center. He tries to stay away from Arlene, a lady that talks too much according to Homer. “She’s just a gossip,” he says.
Adult day care centers are becoming providers of transitional care. Most centers are open for about 10 to 12 hours a day and provide meals, social activities, and depending on the level of your loved one’s needs some type of adult supervision. Adult day care centers vary in the offerings that they provide – some are geared towards social activities, while others target specific medical needs such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. They are licensed or approved and are operated by public or private nonprofit organizations, and over 4000 for-profit organizations. They employ more than 133,600 people in the U.S.
After lunch Homer usually takes a nap in his wheelchair, but he will claim he was watching TV with Fred and Mabel. While Homer is at the center, his daughter Alice has time to do the shopping, wash clothes and even get her hair done.
Some community-based centers are eligible for Child and Adult Care Food Program reimbursement (CACFP, a USDA federal program) for balanced meals that they serve. This helps to lower the cost of serving meals at centers. To enroll, a senior must be at least 60 and be physically or mentally impaired to the extent that it limits their independence and ability to carry out activities of daily living. Enrolled participants are often eligible for free or reduced price meals based on each participant’s income status.
In the afternoon Alice usually has to come get her father from the center – he seldom is ready to go home but he is also too tired to wheel himself and enjoys having his wheelchair pushed. Alice feels good that her Dad likes the center and is really appreciative of the break that it gives her five days a week. Without this break she probably wouldn’t have been able to take care of her father for so long. Homer is alert and active – within his abilities, and the adult day care center is a huge part of that.
So more and more caregivers are dropping off their senior parents or loved ones at an adult day care center, giving them a regular break from supervising them and giving the seniors a chance to hang out with people their own age.