By Betty Berry, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010  Q: 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 an option I am not aware of?

A: First, I want to commend you for reaching out. Many caregivers, for a variety of reasons, resist the need to ask for help.

Now, to answer your question about other options available. You need to investigate adult day care centers, which are available countywide and provide a win-win situation for both the participant and the caregiver.

These centers provide older adults an opportunity to get out of the house and receive mental, social and physical stimulation.

They also give caregivers like yourself a much-needed break to attend to personal needs and relaxation.

Operating during daytime hours, usually from Monday through Friday, these sites provide a safe, cheerful environment along with social and health-related activities programs designed to promote well-being.

Nutritious meals and appropriate snacks are typically included, and special diets can be accommodated. Transportation between home and the day care center is also part of many programs.

Adult day care centers can be public or private, nonprofit or for-profit.

They can also be social models or healthcare models. The healthcare models usually require a health 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. Medicaredoes not cover the cost of these programs. Many facilities offer services on a sliding-fee scale 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 healthcare programs.

MediCal might assist with the cost of licensed adult day healthcare programs if the participant meets eligibility requirements.

Candidates who are likely to benefit from the day care experience include those who are 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 that the participant be continent.

Caregivers should seriously consider using adult day care if their loved one is isolated and desires companionship, can’t be safely left at home alone, needs assistance with daily activities or lives with someone who is frequently away from home.

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 disease.

For more information about Senior Concerns’ programs, visit https://www.seniorconcerns.org/.

To learn more about day care programs in general, visit http://www.caads.org. orhttp://aaa.countyofventura.org/Seniors.aspx.

— Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362; call 495-6250 or e-mail betty@seniorconcerns.,org (please include your telephone number). You

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