There comes a time in the natural evolution of life that makes sense to look for outside help when caring for your parents.
Dad was still vital and mostly self-sufficient, but he was bored and needed more to keep himself occupied. He needed more interaction and more stimuli, plus we needed a short daily break. The idea of finding an adult daycare for him was finally addressed.
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 daycare 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 looking for.
We had been advised that there are many differences in adult daycare, 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. Do they offer physical activities? What is mental stimulation offered? Does a daycare employee become involved, or is that left to those who have come to use the daycare? Do they encourage children to visit? Having a grandchild drop by and a visit can raise the spirits of everyone. Activities are key. 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-a-longs
- 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 daycare offer meals? If only snacks and drinks are offered, what is the menu? So many people have allergies or on a special or restricted diet, you have to ask. We learned water; seniors need water, and does the daycare center push drinking water? It seems like a simple question, but the answer is fundamental.
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 ( www.aplaceformom.com), Average daily fees range from $100 to $300. Is there a minimum weekly rate to hold Dad’s spot if she were not there regularly? Some nonprofit adult day care centers offer scholarships; ask!
We found it a concern when we visited the daycare centers 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 daycare 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 2 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.
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