Adult day centers help older patients and their families

by Deborah Stricoff

Are you caring for an elderly loved one or someone with dementia? As a caregiver, you may need respite and you can get it with the help of an adult day center knowing that your loved one is safe and cared for. Many people are not aware of adult day programs and the benefits they provide, and it’s important to get the word out.

Adult day centers provide personal care, supervision, transportation, meals and recreation therapy during the day, in order to help keep people living at home or with family. Seniors also get physical and cognitive stimulation through a wide variety of activities, including, exercise, art, music, sports, games, gardening, and health education.

Not only do these programs provide welcome relief for caregivers, but the activities and socialization can actually help improve physical and cognitive functioning, as well as mental health. Another benefit of adult day programs is that they can help to reduce hospitalizations. Because staff know participants well, notice changes and provide valuable feedback to caregivers, they’re able to seek medical attention before situations turn into crises.

Over the past twenty-five years in the field, I have seen remarkable changes in seniors attending adult day programs.

Mr. M., a 74-year old with a history of stroke and hypertension, was paralyzed on his left side for many years. After attending an adult day program for 10 months and participating in exercise 3-4 times a week, he is now able to move his left arm and shoulder and he smiles proudly.

Ms. L., 78 years old, was status post CVA, wheelchair-bound, depressed and frequently tearful, and didn’t leave her home except for physician appointments. She was very reluctant to come to an adult day center, but with encouragement from her daughter and social worker, she agreed to give it a try. Now, she attends 5 days a week and participates fully in all activities. Her depression has lifted, and her family is at peace knowing she is in a safe and stimulating environment everyday.

You can find information on programs nationwide at the National Adult Day Services Association.

Deborah Stricoff is Director, Adult Day Services of the VNS CHOICE Adult Day Center who blogs at A Day in the Life.

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