Seniors who prefer to live at home overlook one big possible downside — the potential for a lack of meaningful social interaction. That’s why adult day care is growing in popularity. According to a MetLife National Study of Adult Day Centers, in 2010 more than 4,600 centers in the United States provided services for more than 260,000 recipients and caregivers each day, with 80 percent of participants attending full days and 46 percent attending five days a week.
The prevalence of adult day centers reflects a growing recognition that caregivers can’t always provide everything that a senior or disabled adult living at home needs to lead a happy, fulfilling life. Though you may feel guilty at first about considering adult day care for your senior, day centers can provide your loved one with many benefits, from increased social interaction to cognitive stimulation.
Delaying a Move to an Institution
Another major benefit of adult day care is potentially delaying the move to a long-term care facility. The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that in a study of 50 families that provided full-time care for a senior relative, respite care aided their ability to prevent or delay moving to a facility. Anecdotal reports from the staff in the study indicated that being part of the adult day care program positively impacted most of their clients’ states of mind.
Adult day care centers today have become leaders in providing care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests adult day care offers a chance to be social in a safe environment and participate in staffed activities such as music and exercise programs, games, day trips, and even pet therapy. MetLife found that half of those participating in adult day care have some form of cognitive impairment and just under half required assistance with certain daily living activities.
Caregiver Peace of Mind
From the standpoint of caregivers, the biggest benefit of adult day care is a break from the stress of balancing caring for your loved one with work or other family obligations. In addition, adult day care centers today also offer an array of services an individual caregiver cannot provide, including health services such as blood pressure checks and physical, dental, foot, eye, or ear examinations; counseling; physical, occupational, or speech therapy; nutrition; and even behavior management. Most centers are open seven to 10 hours a day during the week, and some centers offer weekend and evening hours, with meals and transportation also provided. Check out centers near you for details on what that particular center offers.
The benefits of adult day care are numerous. For seniors, it’s a chance to live at home longer and make new friends. And for caregivers, it provides peace of mind that your loved one is in good hands while you can’t be there.