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Elimination of Adult Day Health Care Services and the Impact on Long-Term Care Planning

By Sara Polinsky, Esq.

(Page 1 of 2)

As an Elder Law Attorney, I often meet with families and caregivers to help them create a plan for the future care of a sick or elderly loved one. Since the desire is always to remain at home for as long as possible and to avoid or delay institutionalization, I often explore various services and benefits programs with my clients that will help them stay at home.  Adult Day Health Care Centers have always been an integral part of this planning.

Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) Centers are licensed day care programs that provide various health, enrichment and social services for the frail and elderly such as: individual assessments, counseling, therapy, much needed socialization, hot meals, day-to-day supervision, crafts and activities, support for caregivers and transportation to and from the center.  These programs are unique because they combine both medical and social services.

In California, some estimated 35,000 seniors depend on these services to avoid being placed in nursing homes. The ADHC Centers are a resource for those who need help, but who want to remain at home or living in the community. Without these programs, most participants in ADHC programs would not be able to meet their daily needs and would have to be taken out of their homes.

Not only are ADHC Centers beneficial to the participants of the programs, they are also a tremendous resource for the caregivers of those participants.  These Centers provide respite for those who provide full-time care for their spouses. Very often, I see caregiver spouses forego their own health and needs because they are consumed with the care of the sick spouse. Consequently, it is not uncommon for the caregiver spouse to become very ill themselves or even predecease the sick spouse. ADHC Centers are a safe place for someone to receive care and case management, giving the caregiver spouse an opportunity to rest, shop for household items, socialize or even go to their own, often-missed, doctor’s appointments.

Sometimes, adult children are also caregivers for their elderly parents and being able to send them to ADHC Centers during the day allows these caregivers to keep their daytime jobs.  Without these programs, many caregivers would have to quit their jobs and jeopardize their own standard of living.  Simply put, not only do these programs enhance the quality of life for the participants, but also for their caregivers. Without them, the only alternative for many frail seniors would be institutionalization and a complete loss of independence.

The ADHC Centers have operated as a successful model of care for some 40 years. Most of those who attend ADHC centers are covered by Medi-Cal, meaning they are not only medically needy, but also financially needy. Medi-Cal funding for ADHC programs is going to end as of December 1, 2011 and many frail elderly and their caregivers will have no place to go for the services and care they so desperately need.


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