When our parents become elderly and frail, we want to assist them and keep them at home as long as possible. With the proper services, equipment and safety measures in place, this is possible for many people.

But, successfully keeping our parents safely in their home (or ours) is only half the battle. Many seniors are in fact living in their own home but are completely isolated, lonely and sleeping the day away. Their life is spent waiting for doctor appointments, waiting for someone, anyone to visit. Home care companies may advertise, “There’s no place like home”, but not everyone thrives at home. Let’s face it, a senior who was once an accomplished professional or an active social butterfly will rarely be challenged by the company of a home health aide who may speak limited English or who made be bored with his/her job. Having a warm body keep a senior company does not qualify as social interaction. Many of our clients crave just to be touched. If you hold their hand, they won’t let go. If you rub their tired shoulders, they melt in the chair. A kiss on the cheek goes a very long way because we all need to be touched. The touch of a home health aide getting them dressed in the morning does not count.

Even seniors who have moderate dementia and who seem to not remember one moment to the next do better when they have social and physical stimulation geared to their level of understanding. Some feel social interaction does not matter if it cannot be remembered later. The fact is, seniors with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia and memory loss do seem to live moment to moment, but the quality of those individual moments do matter to their overall health and happiness. If we have a six month old baby, we try to give them wonderful experiences even though they may not remember them the next day. It is important to have quality of life every day because they do register at some level.

Adult Day Care Programs are designed to meet the daily socialization needs of seniors and provide necessary respite for weary caregivers. Even seniors who have live-in caregivers may need Adult Day Care because some seniors, especially those with dementia, sleep very little. Their caregivers are exhausted because their sleep is interrupted by their loved one roaming the house or watching television. The Adult Day Care helps provide the caregiver with an opportunity to run errands and sleep. When the caregiver is a spouse, Adult Day Care is especially important so the spouse can attend social functions, doctor appointments, and preserve their own health and happiness.

There are many Adult Day Care Programs located in Palm Beach County. Most are run by government funded organizations or not-for profit agencies. Some examples include the Division of Senior Services, Alzheimer’s Community Care Alliance, Mae Volen Senior Center, Morse Adult Day Center and New Day Adult Care Center.

Adult Day Care rates vary widely, depending upon the funding source and the participant’s income. Many seniors who have Long Term Care Insurance are delighted to know that many policies do cover Adult Day Care. Most are partially funded by federal funds through the Older American’s Act and county funds such as Community Care for the Elderly. The government funded Adult Day Care locations only charge the participant a small fee. This fee is usually in the form of a tax deductible donation. Many government funded programs have a policy that no one is turned away for inability to pay. Private Adult Day Care locations such as those owned by churches and private non- profit organizations may have a sliding scale based upon financial status. Private Adult Day Care can cost about $55/day and may charge extra if the participant requires personal hygiene care. Whether the cost is $5 or $55 a day, all participants receive lunch and two snacks, assistance with activities of daily living, specialized activities designed to stimulate body, mind and soul. The goal is that every participant has a day of FUN which celebrates what they CAN DO. Staffing ratios average one staff member to every six participants. Some even have a ratio of 1:2. All Adult Day Care locations should be licensed by the State of Florida as an Adult Day Health Care Facility. They are inspected by the state biannually.

Some privately owned Assisted Living Facilities such as Arden Courts will allow you to bring a loved one to their facility to spend the day and participate in activities FOR FREE with the understanding that the participant is considering moving into the facility within a month. Other facilities, such as Encore Senior Living will provide day care at their dementia specific assisted living facility for about $55 per day for an unlimited amount of days with no move-in commitment necessary.

Considering that the average price of a home health aide is now $17/hour ( that is $136 per 8 hour day, an 8 hour day at Adult Day Care will cost only $55/day at the most. Adult Day Care, especially those which charge very little, can save a family hundreds of dollars per week in home health care costs and provided priceless respite for the caregiver.

Most Adult Day Care participants are transported to the program by spouses, family members or home health aides. Others take advantage of free special needs bus transportation provided by Palm Tran Connection. Palm Tran may be free but may not be a good option if your loved one cannot be ready and waiting at the door when the bus arrives. They cannot wait and will leave without anyone who is not ready to go.

Many Adult Day Care locations also host support groups for spouses and caregivers. Some have support groups for people who have Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s and other diseases. They generally spend part of the time in a support session and part of the time listening to an invited speaker who provides an educational or community resource presentation. To locate Adult Day Care facilities and support groups call The Elder Helpline at 2-1-1 or log on to 211palmbeach.org, click online resources, then community resources and scroll down to locate the support group or service you desire. Many folks who attend support groups attend the same group for years and become very close with the other members. Caregiving for a spouse or parent is a very difficult job. It is easier when you put all the support services in place and surround yourself with others who understand. Montreal home care

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