Do you know what an adult day program is, and are you aware of the plethora of services their patrons can benefit from? Adult day programs are one of the most underutilized community resources, and yet, they provide valuable socialization and intellectual stimulation for the person with dementia. Exercise, meals, or even transportation to and from the program, are among some of the services that may be available. Perhaps most importantly, day programs offer much needed respite for the primary caregiver.
Want to learn more? Read below.
What are Adult Day Programs/Centers?
Adult day centers (a.k.a. adult day programs, adult daycare) offer group respite care that is provided outside the home and designed to meet the individual needs of the participants and to support strengths, abilities, and independence. Throughout the day, participants have the opportunity to interact with others while being part of a secure, structured environment. Daily activities may include music, recreation, discussion, and support groups. Hours of service vary, but centers are often open 7-10 hours per day, 5-6 days per week. Transportation may be available. Adult day centers also give caregivers a break from caregiving. While the person with dementia is at a center, the caregiver will have time to rest, run errands, or finish other tasks. As a result, he or she may return to caregiving responsibilities feeling refreshed and renewed.
Adult day centers can vary. Consult a variety of sources to find a center that is suitable for your individual. Plan a visit to observe and ask questions. While visiting, notice if individuals are engaged in activities and if staff members treat each person as an individual with unique needs. Keep an open mind. You may want to visit without the person with dementia, then visit together for lunch or an activity.
But…what if my person does not want to go?
Know that initial resistance is not uncommon, but these feelings are often overcome through repeated exposure and positive experiences. It is sometimes helpful for caregivers to refer to the day program as going to school, work, a senior center, visiting with friends, etc., in order to encourage participation. Reassure the person if they express anxiety and reinforce the pleasant interactions/activities that await them at the day center. Consider using a center’s services at least twice a week for a month before making a final decision. If the adult day center does not seem to be working out, consider reintroducing it again after some time.
Questions to Ask
When choosing an adult day center, there are a number of factors to consider, including the staff, environment, programs and type of services available. The following list of questions may be helpful when checking out a day center:
- Does the center provide services for people with different types of impairments as well as those in good physical health?
- Does the center provide specific services for individuals with dementia?
- Will the center evaluate the person’s needs, interests and abilities?
- How will this evaluation be accomplished and how often will it be repeated?
- Will medical needs, social and family history, cognitive functioning and social skills be assessed?
Programs and Services
Be sure the center offers the programs and services that you and the person with dementia need. The following are some of the specific services you may want to investigate. Keep in mind that few adult day programs offer all the services described below, and not all of the services are necessary for a program to be of high quality.
- Does the center offer activities that the person can participate in and enjoy?
- Are people with dementia separate from other participants or included in general activities?
- Are participants involved in suggesting activities?
- Is the schedule flexible and based on needs and interests?
- Will the center’s staff help with grooming, toileting, eating, showering and other personal care tasks?
- Does the center provide nutritious meals and snacks? You may want to sample a meal.
- Can the center accommodate special diets or provide a culturally specific menu?
- Will the center provide blood pressure checks and physical, dental, foot, eye and ear examinations?
- Will the center dispense medication and/or offer medication reminders?
- Will the center help arrange physical, occupational, or speech therapy?
- Are there therapists onsite or on call?
- Will the center provide support for clients and families? For example, can they offer guidance on outside resources and arrange for supportive care in the home?
- Is the center equipped to deal with someone who uses a wheelchair, is hearing or visually impaired or is handicapped in another way?
- Who is the owner or sponsoring agency?
- How many years have they been in operation?
- Does the center have a license, certification or accreditation (is appropriate in that state)?
- What are the hours of operation?
- Is there a minimum number of hours required?
- What are the policies regarding lateness or absence?
- What is the daily cost?
- What types of payments (e.g. Medicaid, long-term care insurance, military veteran’s benefits) are accepted?
- Is there financial aid or a sliding scale rate — where caregivers pay according to ability or income?
- Are there any additional charges for specific services?
Location and transportation
- Is the center easy for you to get to?
- Does the center offer its own transportation services?
- Does the center recommend specific transportation providers?
- What is the overall appearance and quality of the facility?
- Is it warm, inviting and free of clutter?
- Is there adequate space to accommodate activities for individuals with different needs?
- Is there space available for outdoor activities?
- Is the furniture clean and comfortable?
- Are there secured areas for outside walking?
- What are the staff qualifications?
- What is the staff to client ratio?
- Do staff members have dementia-specific training?
- Are individuals with dementia treated with respect and dignity?
- Does the center have a physician, nurse, or health care professional on staff or on call?
- If the center uses volunteers, are they adequately trained and supervised?
- Is staff warm and friendly to individuals, family members and caregivers?
It is also important to reevaluate your need for adult day services. At some point the person with dementia may need more care than the center can provide. Center staff and support groups can help evaluate your needs for future care.
Want to learn EVEN MORE and explore adult day programs that are nearby you? Call our 24/7 Harry L. Nelson Helpline at 1-800-272-3900, day or night!