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Advocacy for Older Adults

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Our Mission : To advance the health, independence and dignity of older adults
Day Care Use for Older Adults Growing
- May 24, 2001
by Eileen Beal

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"When someone suggested to my mom that the adult day care program at Eliza Bryant [Village] might help my dad's withdrawal and the symptoms he'd been exhibiting due to dementia [asking the same question over and over, getting up in the middle of the night, leaving the gas on in the kitchen] it was the solution to both their needs," says social worker Jackie Ashby, a resident of University Heights.

"Day care addressed mom's need to be able to have time to take care of normal things around the house, to have a respite so she could go out shopping, and take care of her own health needs," she explained, "without worrying that dad might hurt himself."

"And," she added, "for dad the three days a week he spends in day care are stimulating-when he comes home he's always talking about the 'guys'-and calming, too. He's a lot less agitated than he used to be. Had adult day care not been there for us, and him, we'd have had to consider putting him in a nursing home."

Adult day care is growing the same way child care has grown in the last 20 years. Caregivers who work-and increasing number of elderly caregiving spouses-need to be able to leave their loved one in a structured, secure, safe, stimulating, and supportive environment on a regular basis. Caregivers can continue to do what they need to do during the day, and the person in the program can be with peers and socialize.

The benefits of having a loved one in adult day care often spill over into the home environment says Linda Lessin, director of the A New Day, the adult day care program at Lakewood Hospital's Community Health Center. Citing improved mental [cognitive] function due to group activities; better eating and sleeping patterns that lead to better health status; and the mini-respite that adult day care provides for care-givers who need to tend to their own health and emotional needs, she said: "For many families an adult day program improves everyone's quality of life."

There are different adult day care models. The social model, used at Eliza Bryant Village, is aimed at people who do not need heavy-duty medical care, but who benefit from supervision and socialization activities, such as group dining, exercise classes, arts and crafts workshops, volunteer work, and/or field trips. Many individuals in social programs often have mild physical impairments or mild dementia.

The medical model, used at Benjamin Rose's Adult Day Care Program in Shaker Heights and in programs connected with nursing homes or area hospitals, offers all the services and activities social programs offer, but it's 'enhanced' with medical services, such as dressing or wound care [for those recovering from surgery]; occupational, physical, and/or speech therapy sessions; medical screenings, medication monitoring; etc. Most individuals in medical programs are physically frail and/or require significant help with activities of daily living [i.e. feeding, toileting, bathing].

In the Cleveland area, adult day care costs run the gamut from $10 to $75 a day-with $35 to $60 being the norm. Costs vary so much because, right now, the majority of the adult day care programs are run with grants and social service funds that allow for sliding fee scales.

Both models, says Dr. Zev Harel, a social work professor at Cleveland State University, "keep participants at home in their communities, where they want to be, and get them the services they need...at about 60% of what it would cost if they were institutionalized."

When is the time to shop for an adult day care program?
"Before it becomes a necessity," advises Carol Tagg, director of Merrick Senior Center's adult day care program. "That way you can visit places, look around, see how the staff is interacting with people [in the program], and actually try it out."

Trying before buying, she adds, "will make it a lot easier on you and the person [going into the program] because they will already know the place."

For information on adult day care programs and services, and/or to get information that will help you evaluate the facility that is right for you and your loved one, contact:

Alzheimer's Association 216-721-8457
Benjamin Rose/Intake Department 216-791-8000
Ohio Association of Adult Day Services 614-888-9772
United Way's First Call for Help 216-436-2000
Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging 216-621-8010