Adult daycare services not simply ‘babysitting’

Adult daycare services not simply ‘babysitting’

Alix Dunn

For caregivers of disabled or dependent adults, the juggling of work, life and guardianship can push even the strongest person into emotional overload.

For dependent adults living at home, spending time alone can do the same thing.

Traditionally, options for professional caregiving have been limited to nursing homes and home-based nurse assistance. But the high cost, both emotionally and financially, of full-time professional care has led to the emergence of adult daycare.

“It’s not a babysitting service,” said Lorie Leidel, owner and director of Adult Day Services Inc. in Colorado Springs. “Members don’t sit in front of a television all day. They could do that at home.”

Members, as Leidel calls them, participate in activities including discussions about current events, music therapy, physical activities, financial planning lessons, science experiments, games, and arts and crafts.

The mere presence of a peer group heightens socialization and prevents the boredom and dangers associated with the disabled and seniors staying home alone.

Adult Day Services Inc. is a social-medical model daycare, with a certified nursing assistant on staff and a registered nurse who works two hours a day. The focus is not on medical care, but rather the scheduling of activities that cater to the needs and wants of participants.

“I like to think of it as a club that members join to spend time with people their age,” Leidel said. “We try and focus on activities and not medications. This is a social environment and not a hospital.”

Like many adult day services, ADS provides transportation for a fee, and members can run errands and visit doctors’ offices, during the day, reserving more quality time at home after a caregiver’s day at work.

Adult daycare facilities fall into one of three categories: medical, social and Alzheimer’s-specific.

Medical models provide physical therapy, psychiatric services, geriatric physicians and therapists in addition to the scheduled daily activities of the social model. These services are more expensive than social daycare, but are less expensive than residential assisted living facilities.

Many participants in medical model daycare use home care nursing assistance to complement daycare, thereby receiving around-the- clock support at a price comparable to a residential assisted living community.

For those struggling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, the Alzheimer’s-specific model provides a safe environment during participants’ “wandering” stage and encourages socialization and interaction with others.

The Namaste Alzheimer’s Center in Colorado Springs offers a day program and a skilled care, overnight program for participants. Medical staff from the skilled care wing assists the day program when necessary.

Emphasis is not placed on the medical care, but rather the full range of activities available during the day.

“There are so many activities it’s hard to name them all. We offer painting, musical therapy, aromatherapy, cooking, ball classes, chapel and outings just to name a few,” said Paula Levy. “Our activities department makes the schedule and mixes up what (participants) do to keep things interesting.”

The cost of the Penrose Hospital-owned facility ranges from $30 for a half-day to $65 for a full day.

At Rocky Mountain Health Care, enrollees of the adult day program are patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury and need assistance with life skills and re-socialization.

“The program is community based, meaning participants take trips to the YMCA and the library,” said Bregitta Hughes, the directory of the day program. “We work on cognitive refocusing and skills needed for daily life.”

All-inclusive care costs $160 a day, but state funding devoted to supporting brain-injured adults often helps caregivers pay the bills.

The cost for adult daycare varies depending on the financial need of participants and the types of services offered by a facility. Medical model facilities are the most expensive because of the cost of a medical staff, but Medicare can help qualified seniors with expenses.

When dependent adults stay in the home, even if they are enrolled in daycare, insurance companies save money, which is why many long- term care policies and flex-benefits packages offer financial aid for caregivers.

For those considering using adult day care services, the first step is to identify the appropriate type of model.

Shop around. Gather a list of facilities that, on paper, meet the individual’s needs and then visit each facility. And be prepared to ask questions.

Not all seniors who could benefit from daycare services are quick to enroll. Some caregivers do not want someone else taking care of a parent or loved one, and some seniors and disabled adults feel threatened by the idea of going to “daycare.”

“The hardest thing is getting adults to try adult daycare,” Leidel said. “They may feel too independent for a ‘babysitting’ service or may be turned off by the medical side of care.”

Firsthand experience spurred Leidel’s interest in opening an adult daycare facility – she watched her father struggle with home care for the last two years of his life.

“He couldn’t get out of the house and he had no one to talk to,” she said. “We are social creatures, and I think if he had someone to talk to he would have lived longer.”

Although the number of adult day services has doubled since the 1980s, correlating with the aging of the baby boomers, the available services can’t accommodate the need.

According to a study conducted by the Partners in Caregiving, El Paso County needs eight new facilities – of the 58 needed in Colorado – to meet demand.

Copyright 2006 Dolan Media Newswires

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