Adult Day Care Centers
Please read this brief introduction before viewing the list of adult day care centers that follows. Also, please note that this list does not constitute an endorsement of any center listed and is intended for use by families as a starting point in a selection process.
Adult day care is a community-based program that offers therapeutic activities and individualized services in a group setting for older adults with a variety of disabilities. Those attending adult day care centers can enjoy a structured recreation program with activities designed to provide some meaning and purpose to each day under the direction of a professional staff. Some centers also provide transportation, medication management and assistance with personal care needs such as bathing. Persons with dementia typically enjoy the opportunity to be with other people in a place where their needs and abilities are understood. Adult day care also enables their caregivers to temporary break from their caregiving responsibilities.
As a general rule, adult day care may be useful to consider when one or more conditions are present:
- The person with dementia seems unable to provide any structure for her daily activities,
- She is isolated from others for more than an hour or two each day and misses companionship,
- She cannot be safely left alone at home,
- The caregiver works outside the home or needs a regular break.
There are many ways to approach the decision to involve the person with dementia in adult day care. First of all, the caregiver needs to be comfortable with the idea. Exploratory visits are usually welcomed by day care staff. Sometimes staff will make home visits to get to know the person being considered for adult day care. When discussing this option with the person with dementia, it is best to use a positive, calm and reassuring manner. Simple and brief explanations are most effective such as, "It’s a place where you can meet some friendly people," or "The doctor wants you to try this out so I think it’s worth checking out." Most people with dementia will follow the lead of their caregivers if the right tone is set.
Some people with Alzheimer’s disease will have a good reaction to their first visit to an adult day care center. Others may be put off initially by the new and unfamiliar situation. The care center staff has a lot of experience with this dilemma and know how to ease the adjustment. Caregivers may expect some resistance but should realize that an adjustment period is normal. The payoff comes when the person with dementia begins to enjoy the interaction with other participants and staff and feels safe and accepted.
Family caregivers often find out about adult day care through a social worker, nurse or physician. However, information about local centers can be obtained from the Illinois Department on Aging by calling (800) 252-8966. In addition, the National Council on Aging maintains an extensive listing of centers throughout the country. The National Council on Aging can be reached at (202) 479-1200.
Currently Medicare does not cover the cost so most people have to pay out of their own pockets. Financial assistance may be available for those with low incomes and assets through public sources such as the State Department on Aging or the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. A sliding fee scale may also be available for those not eligible for subsidies. Discounts are usually allowed for those who attend daily instead of a periodic basis.
Adult day care is not for everyone since the choice depends upon the individualized needs of the person with dementia and the caregiver. However, adult day care has the potential to benefit both people. This option should not be overlooked as many caregivers can attest it has been the best choice they have made in behalf of their loved ones and themselves.
For information on adult day care centers in Illinois, visit the Illinois Department on Aging’s page on adult day service.