Adult Day Care: Right for Your Family?

You’re not alone if you’re at work, trying to concentrate on the document in front of you, but all you can think about is, “I hope Mom hasn’t forgotten she left a pot on the stove,” or, “I wonder if Dad has fallen and is lying in the bathroom.”

Caring for an elderly loved one or a special-needs adult at home can be all-encompassing. While it’s both rewarding and challenging, the key to success is having the right plan in place.

An adult day services center is one solution to meet the needs of a changing family dynamic. It can provide a safe, stimulating environment for a few hours a day for participants while allowing caregivers the chance to take care of life’s necessities free from worry.

Choosing an adult day care center that’s right for your own special-needs adult, parent or spouse requires research and time. Here are some things to consider.

Don’t just read about a center. Make an appointment and take a tour to see it for yourself. Some things to look for are:

• Is there natural light, and are all areas well lit?

• Is there enough room through-out for wheelchairs and walkers to maneuver easily?

• Are handrails strategically placed?

• Are bathrooms spacious enough for wheelchairs and walkers?

You should also watch how staff and participants interact. Look for a warm but professional feeling. Later, you may want to show up without an appointment to observe how everything operates when no guests are expected.

Adult day care centers in Maryland are designed for adults with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, post-stroke ailments or behavioral health challenges such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Staffing regulations differ in every state, but in Maryland, staff must include a registered nurse, activity staff, social workers and program assistants.

Of course, mental stimulation is important no matter what someone’s cognitive level is. The activities at one center may better suit your family member than at another center. Your husband may enjoy a dynamic activities program with arts and crafts, intergenerational programs, music, cooking classes and exercise, or he may be more partial to low-key discussion groups, entertainment and trips.

Food is also important to adults of all ages. If a participant keeps kosher, has food allergies or is a picky eater, check if a center can accommodate those needs and assist with feeding if necessary.

For your convenience, some day care centers provide door-to-door transportation with handicapped-equipped vans.

Finally, consider how many days a week your loved one can attend and what insurance will cover. Then you’re ready to make a decision. However, even after you’ve selected a center, keep communicating to make sure it continues to be a good fit.

If a parent, spouse or special-needs adult enjoys spending time at an adult day services center, the whole family benefits and your time together is even more special.

Lauri Malin R.N., B.S.N. is nurse manager at Pikesville Adult Day Services.

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