Layin’ it on the Line: Whether for health or social needs, how to find the right ‘day care’ for parents

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FEATURE —There comes a time in the natural evolution of life that makes sense to look for outside help when caring for your parents. 

File photo by Unsplash, St. George News

Dad was still vital and mostly self-sufficient, but he was bored and needed more to keep himself occupied. The idea of finding an adult day care for him was finally addressed. He needed more interaction and more stimuli, plus we needed a short daily break.

We embarked on the adventure of finding a satisfactory place for Dad to visit a couple of times a week. The first thing we learned was that there were two differences in adult day care centers. One choice would be for health care needs, and the other was for social interaction. Fortunately for Dad, it was the social choice we were seeking.

We had been advised that there are many differences in adult day care, not just the health and special issues. One big issue was physical access; Dad used a walker, and occasionally it was easier for him to get around in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, not all adult day care centers will take people in wheelchairs.

We asked about an activities schedule, which we found to be an essential part of finding the right one. Do they offer physical activities? What is mental stimulation offered? Does a day care employee become involved, or is that left to those who have come to use the day care? Do they encourage children to visit? Having a grandchild drop by and a visit can raise the spirits of everyone. Activities are key. Make sure you ask.

A well-run adult day care center’s goals will offer activities that enrich the experience. Here are some of the activities that may be available:

  • Arts and crafts therapy.
  • Musical entertainment and sing-alongs.
  • Mental stimulation games such as bingo and card games.
  • Stretching or other gentle exercises.
  • Discussion groups led by a staff member.
  • Holiday and birthday celebrations.
  • Visits by religious organizations.

Does the day care offer meals? If only snacks and drinks are offered, what is the menu? So many people have allergies or are on a special or restricted diet, so you have to ask. Water is critical for older adults.  Does the day care center push drinking water? It seems like a simple question, but the answer is fundamental.

Image by Steve DiMatteo from Pixabay, St. George News

One big surprise we found on our first day care visit was how dirty the bathrooms were. It is important to ask to see and inspect the bathrooms. Is the towel dispenser full? Is there hand soap? Are there handrails to help the user? Make sure you know what the hours of operation are. What happens if someone is late in picking up Dad? Are they open on weekends? Is there a shift change during the day? Will it affect Dad’s visit?

Ask about costs and expenses. How much is the daily rate? Is there an hourly rate? According to A Place for Mom, average daily fees range from $100 to $300. Is there a minimum weekly rate to hold Dad’s spot if he were not there regularly? Some nonprofit adult day care centers offer scholarships. Again, ask!

Also consider the ratio of staff to users. We always asked what their staff ratio was, and the better centers offered the better ratios. We found in nonprofit day care centers there was a better ratio of staff to the user. It may seem an absurd question, but are they licensed? Ask them and then ask to see their licenses. Any credible center will happily show you their license, don’t just assume it.

For Dad, it has been a wonderful experience. He looks forward to going to the center, we originally scheduled two days a week, and now he is using the facilities almost every day. He has met a nice group of friends and has learned new activities he never dreamed would interest him.

I hope our research will help you in your search for an adult daycare center.

Additional resources:

Copyright © Lyle Boss, all rights reserved.

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