Family caregivers are are extremely valuable, but often need additional help in caring for a loved one. Caregiving can take an enormous toll, both financially and physically. Adult day care can provide needed respite from caregiving and may reduce the need for nursing home care.
According to the 2000 census, there are 3,407 adult day care centers operating in the United States, serving primarily people with dementia (including Alzheimer's disease) and the frail elderly who do not have dementia. But experts suggest that many more centers will be needed in the next few years to cope with aging baby boomers who will need care. Adult day care is a viable, low-cost way of keeping individuals who are in need of chronic care at home, in the community, and with family and friends as long as possible.
Adult day care centers are typically open Monday through Friday during the day and give relief to caregivers during those hours. Surveys show the average cost of adult day centers is $56 per day, which is considerably under the cost of most other options for the frail elderly and people with dementia.
Finding Adult Day Care
To find care centers in your area, you can:
- Talk with your loved one's doctor.
- Contact your local Area Agency on Aging (check your phone book, or call 1-800-677-1116 for the AAA in your area).
- Try the U.S. Administration on Aging's Eldercare Locator.
- Check with your local senior center.
- Talk to the staff at your church.
- Check the yellow pages under "Adult Day Care" or "Senior Services."
Evaluating Adult Day Care Centers
You will want to find the best place for your loved one to spend those hours away from you. Be sure to check for:
- Number of years in operation -- look for stability.
- State license or certification, if required
- Days and hours of operation
- Financial costs -- be sure to look for any hidden costs (such as extra charges for transportation or special meals). Do they have any financial assistance available?
- Meet the staff and ask for credentials -- can your loved one's health needs be met?
- Is transportation provided?
- Look at the menu -- can special dietary needs be met? It is a good sign if they ask you to stay for lunch.
- Can they deal with conditions such as incontinence or dementia?
- Ask for references -- if you can talk to the family of a client, that is even better.
Don't feel like you are failing your loved one if you need to get a break -- the time away from each other can be a great rejuvenator.