QUESTION: I am a full-time caregiver and at my wits end. I am totally worn out and need a break. Placing my loved one in a long-term care facility is not an option at this time and having someone come into my home will not provide me the peace and quiet that I need. Is there any other option that I am not aware of?
ANSWER: First, I want to commend you on reaching out for help. Many caregivers, for a variety of reasons, resist the need to ask for help when caregiving for a loved one.
Now to answer your question about other options available. You need to investigate adult day care centers. These programs are available countywide and provide a win-win situation for both the participant and the caregiver.
The intent of an adult day care center is primarily two-fold. They provide older adults, the participants, an opportunity to get out of the house and receive mental, social and physical stimulation. They also give the caregiver, like yourself, a much-needed break in which to attend to personal needs and much-needed relaxation.
These centers provide planned programs designed to promote well-being through social- and health-related activities. They operate during daytime hours, usually Monday through Friday, and provide a safe and cheerful environment.
Nutritious meals and appropriate snacks are typically included and special diets can be accommodated. Transportation between home and the day care center are also part of many of the programs.
Adult day care centers can be public or private. They can be nonprofit or for-profit. They also can be social models (Adult Day Care — ADC) or health-care models (Adult Day Health Care — ADHC). The health-care models differ from the social models as they usually require a health-care assessment by a physician before the senior can be admitted into the program and they often provide physical, occupational and speech therapy.
The cost for adult day care programs varies depending on where you live and the services provided. Medicare does not cover the cost of these programs. Many facilities offer services on a sliding-fee scale, allowing you to pay based on your income and ability to pay. If the participant has long-term care insurance, some policies do cover the cost of both social and health-care programs.
MediCal may assist with the cost of licensed adult day health care programs if the participant meets eligibility requirements.
Candidates who are likely to benefit from the day-care experience include those who may be physically or cognitively challenged but do not require 24-hour supervision and those who are in the early stages of dementia.
Adult day care participants need to be mobile with the possible assistance of a cane, walker or wheelchair. Some day care centers also require the participant to be continent.
Senior Concerns offers a social model day care program with numerous sub-programs that serve participants with different needs, including those with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s. For more information about Senior Concerns programs, visit www.seniorconcerns.org.
Caregivers should seriously consider using adult day care when their loved ones are isolated and desire companionship, can’t be safely left at home alone, need assistance with daily activities or live with someone who is frequently away from home.