By Inger Rarick
Most of us will have to manage the care of an aging loved one at some point in our lifetime. A loved one can need additional care because of a medical condition or complication, a decline in cognitive functioning, or increasing isolation and depression. The responsibilities and challenges can be overwhelming for a caregiver. Navigating the options for senior care and coordinating their care can be equally challenging.
Assisted Living & Skilled Nursing Facilities: Studies show the process of aging is a much better experience when you are able to age in place and remain in the home environment. For this reason, assisted living or skilled nursing facilities may not be the best option for your loved one. In addition to the trauma associated with moving someone from the home to an assisted care environment, one must also consider the high cost of care as these facilities can range from $3,000 to more than $10,000 per month.
In-Home Care: While this solution would allow a loved one to remain in their home, the fact is that home health care can still be very isolating. Studies have shown that seniors who feel lonely are twice as likely to develop dementia as well as have a significant increase in heart disease and depression. Not only is in-home care socially isolating, but the cost of home care can be very prohibitive for many families.
In-home care agencies often have a high rate of staff turnover. It places a burden on the family to orient and supervise new caregivers, not to mention the difficulties everyone may have adjusting to frequently changing staff. Because the caregivers work without direct supervision it can be difficult for the agencies to ensure the quality of care. The family may feel they need to carefully watch over them as well.
Adult Day Care Services: Seniors who attend adult day centers have varied opportunities to meet and to be with friends, enjoy nutritious meals including special diets, assistance with personal care, and support with their health and medical needs such as health monitoring and medication administration.
Adult Day Care centers have professional qualified staff including registered and licensed nurses, social workers, dieticians, and activity specialists that are able to handle such issues as physical impairment, depression, Alzheimer's and dementia, stroke, and Parkinson's Disease as well as chronic conditions that demand constant monitoring such as diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis.
Additional services may include the provision of transportation, podiatry, physical, occupational, and speech therapy services, weekly outings, exercise classes, salon services, and caregiver respite support groups.
Adult day care centers are usually open from 7 am to 6 pm, from Monday to Friday. Some centers are also available during the evenings and on Saturday and/or Sunday or provide in-home care during those times.
The average cost for adult day care is much less than a visit from a home health nurse and about a quarter of the cost of skilled nursing facility. Assistance with funding is available from Long Term Care Insurance and Medicaid. In some areas, funding assistance may also be available from the Veteran's Administration, nursing home diversion programs, and other entitlement programs.
A checklist for comparing adult day care centers in addition to identifying locations is available on the website of the National Adult Day Services Association (nadsa.org).
Adult day care centers are the most cost effective way to help seniors age in place and provide much needed respite for family caregivers. For more information or to find a center near you, visit SarahCare® Adult Day Care Services (sarahcare.com).
About the Author
Inger Rarick has over 20 years of experience working with older adults, seniors and the elderly in various settings including adult day care, assisted living facilities, and in-patient rehabilitation. She understands the needs of family caregivers and the stress associated with managing the care of an aging parent. In addition to her clinical work with families and seniors, Ms. Rarick is also passionate about technology and how technology can improve the lives of seniors both at home and in the healthcare setting. Aging in place and supporting older loved ones to remain in the home environment is essential to successful aging. She founded a company called FamiliLink, empowering families to provide care and support to aging loved ones by including them in the digital loop. She also works closely with Sarahcare (www.sarahcare.com), a leading Adult Day Care Service company with more than 35 centers across the nation.
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