Adult day services are an often overlooked and yet valuable resource for both caregivers and the elderly. Many caregivers regularly need to work outside the home, run errands and go shopping, but may hesitate to leave their loved ones at home alone, fearing dangerous falls or other accidents. On the other hand, many elderly left alone all day may find themselves parked in front of the television for long hours or may begin to suffer from loneliness and depression. Adult day services offer an alternative to these situations and provide helpful recreational, medical and social programs specifically designed for such ones while still allowing them to live at home or with their family members.
Program attendees can participate in activities ranging from intellectual challenges such as boardgames, book club discussions and arts and crafts to physical fitness activities such as jogging, self-defense classes and even Wii Fit games. Additionally, they can mingle with their peers and make new friends. Most services also offer snacks and meals, as well as inexpensive transportation to and from their facilities.
Adult day services can also provide caregivers with much needed mental and physical breaks. Overextended caregivers often suffer their own depression, stress and health problems and taking time to care for themselves can in the end make them better caregivers. Adult day services offer caregivers the opportunity to relax knowing that their loved ones are in a protected environment for the day.
So what should you consider when choosing an adult day service program? First, consider the level of assistance that your loved one will require. There are three basic types of adult day services, each offering a different degree of care.
- Specialized adult day services are specifically designed for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, and the care offered is adapted to the needs of the patient.
- Adult day health services are designed for individuals who are still relatively active, but who require daily health care. These facilities offer social activities, such as group outings, games, and classes, but also retain medical health professionals on staff to assist with physical therapies, administer medications, and care for other health needs.
- Adult day social services are designed for individuals who are active, and who are seeking social interaction rather than medical assistance. These facilities provide the same types of activities as do adult day health services, but without the medical component of care.
Choosing a Quality Facility
Once you have determined that the level of care that your loved one will need, it is important to choose a quality program that he or she will enjoy attending. So how can you choose an appropriate service? Here are a few tips.
- Talk to your family doctor. He or she may not only be familiar with the different local programs, but will also know your elderly family member’s needs.
- Find out who is on the program’s staff. Are licensed medical professionals employed, and if so, how many?
- Find out if the program has certifications appropriate in your state. Many states have standards governing these types of programs.
- Contact the program to find out what kinds of medical conditions are accepted. For instance, a program may accept individuals suffering from the very early stages of dementia, but may not accept those suffering from incontinence.
- Examine the types of activities offered. Are they activities that your loved one will enjoy? Make sure that the program is a good fit, both for you and the family member in question.
- Consider whether or not you need a program that provides transportation and meals, and make sure that the program you choose meets your needs.
Once you have found a service that seems like a good fit, be sure to visit the facility with your loved one. Talk to the staff and those enrolled in the program, and examine the program’s reputation. Get a sense of whether or not your family member will feel comfortable in the environment.
The Costs of Adult Day Services
The average cost for adult day services is currently around $60 per day. While these programs may not be inexpensive, many find that they are less costly that hiring a home health care aid worker for the day, and also have additional benefits, such as allowing the elderly person in question to associate with peers. You may find too that financial assistance is available. Some insurance programs will cover the cost of adult day services. Veterans can also receive aid from the Veteran’s Administration. Finally, many programs are publicly funded, and offer services on a sliding fee scale. If you claim your elderly family member as a dependent on your taxes, you may also be able to deduct the fees from adult day services.
For further information on adult day services, or to find a program near you, check out the National Adult Day Services Association website.
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