The growing value of adult day care
When COVID-19 brought lockdowns and quarantines, the media gave significant attention to parents losing the services of day care and other childcare outside the home. But what about the more than 260,000 families across the nation who depend on day care for their adult loved ones?
Adult day care programs offer extremely valuable services to its guests and their family members who take responsibility for their well-being.
In a recent interview, Kara Harvey, co-founder and CEO of Elder-Well® Adult Day Program, discussed a range of benefits adult day care can provide.
1. Social interaction. COVID-19 magnified awareness of social isolation and its negative effects, especially among seriously ill and elderly populations. “The effects of being alone and unable to join in their community and do the things they desire to do causes many negative effects on a person,” Kara said. “Cognitive decline happens. Poor nutrition, dehydration, depression, stroke, heart disease are all possible outcomes from being isolated – a real danger.”
On the other hand, social interaction with peers of similar age helps promote purpose, acceptance, friendship, independence and self-rediscovery. “When our guests engage in meaningful activities, you’ll see their mood improve,” Kara added. “They’re happier, they show more confidence, increased concentration – just their overall well-being improves.”
2. Cognitive engagement. Keeping seniors mentally active is vital to their well-being, too. A substantial number of adult day care guests have Alzheimer’s disease or some stage of dementia. And even for guests without memory issues, regularly stimulating the mind improves physical and emotional health.
“We develop our specific programs around multi-sensory stimulation, which is using the defenses of our body and that really helps to improve awareness,” Kara said. “We incorporate music, art, pets and nature, which are all proven to improve cognition and bring positive mood. And, of course, reminiscence and discussion activities, because if someone has a diagnosis of dementia, it’s easier for them to remember long term than short term. So, we have some really fun activities that pinpoint those.”
3. Family respite and support. In addition to the many advantages adult day care provides for its guests, their family caregivers benefit greatly, as well. “Respite from the demand of primary caregiving and always being the one that needs to entertain or take care – that is a huge benefit for (families).“ Kara said. ”They have the peace of mind knowing that guilt-free you can have your loved one somewhere that they’re having a great time and making friends, and that caregiver can continue to work. Or even a personal time alone or with friends or going to the store alone can be a gift for them.
“Another part of our service to families is that we give them support and community resources to help them make decisions,” Kara added. “If, say, they need some extra care at night, then we can help them decide (exactly) what they need. Or, if it comes time for talk and transition to placement in a residential living situation, then we assist them with that.”
Kara had much more to say about the benefits of adult day care programs. Have you considered adding this service line to your continuum of care? Many communities don’t have this valuable resource available. To hear the entire discussion with Kara, listen to our latest podcast episode.