Adult Day: What it is and how it can help


by Jill Adams 

Adult day care programs are community-based programs designed to improve the quality of life for adults with physical and/or cognitive challenges by providing health care in an environment that is safe and enjoyable. Adult day care can make a positive difference in the lives of participants as well as their caregivers. The primary focus is to help members achieve a marked improvement in their daily functioning, health, and overall quality of life, while providing respite and peace of mind for their caregivers. Adult day care can be an appropriate choice for adults of any age, from young adults to the young at heart.

When Adult Day Services are the Right Choice

Adult day care may be helpful if any of the situations below apply to the person you love:

• Cannot be left alone during the day while family members go to work

• Feels isolated, lonely, or bored

• Has little to do during the day except watch tv and nap

• Has trouble getting around the house due to physical limitations

• Needs medications on an ongoing basis

• Would enjoy socializing, trying new activities, and making friends

• Would enjoy getting out of the house a few days a week

• Needs physical, speech, or occupational therapy

• Would enjoy the support and camaraderie of peers facing the same or similar challenges

Adult day care provides needed respite for family caregivers, and might be a good choice if you are experiencing any of the following:

• You need a break in your caregiver routine

• You want your family member to be safe when you are at work

• You need some time to yourself

• You miss having “fun” time with your family member; all your time is now spent giving care, causing you to sometimes feel angry, resentful, and overwhelmed

• You are looking for enriching activities for your loved one during the day

• Your loved one needs a lot of skilled nursing and personal care, but you want your family member to remain at home

What Services do Adult Day Care Centers Provide?

Many adult day care programs offer a variety of services, including personal care by nursing assistants; medical care by nurses, such as catheter care, breathing treatments, ostomy care, tube feedings, wound care, trach care, medication management, and diabetes management (although these are not requirements for admission); and nutrition management with USDA-approved meals and snacks.

A full calendar of interest-related activities and entertainment is typically offered, as well as daily exercise. Customized care-planning with regular nursing assessments, caregiver support and education, and physician updates are also included. Some centers provide transportation to and from the center, as well as physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

What Type of Recreational Activities Are Offered at Adult Day Centers?

While a typical day at each center may differ, in general you can expect to have activities that meet cognitive, physical, creative, social, emotional, and spiritual needs.

A day may include physical exercise, a craft project, games,puzzles, and time for visiting with peers. There may be an art class, a field trip, or reminiscing activities. Local students might be scheduled to visit; dancers or musicians may arrive to entertain. A church group might come to preach or sing; pet therapy dogs may visit participants who enjoy animals. Each day is different, but you can be sure there will be cognitive and physical stimulation and enjoyment.

Are Funding Resources Available?

Most adult day care services are less than $2000 a month, far less expensive than assisted living or skilled nursing homes, and can be a practical interim step. There are also public funding and state program options available. Vouchers are available from the Alzheimer’s Association and the Trident Area Agency on Aging; these grants are short-term in nature and are a good option for families who are in the application process for Medicaid, or who have a loved one waiting on admission to a nursing home. Medicaid has a waiver program, Community Long-Term Care (CLTC), which will pay the cost of the day care as well as transportation in many cases.

Your county’s Disabilities Board may also have funding available, and veterans may qualify under a program through their local VA. Some insurance companies pay for adult day care if medical services are required. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover adult day care at this time.

How Do I Get Started?

All About Seniors has a list of adult day centers. A simple phone call to the center of your choice is all it takes to get started on the road to peace of mind in regard to the day-to-day care of your loved one.