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Caregivers Challenge: Finding Daycare Options

By  Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer 

 

Caregivers who are just beginning their journey may feel day care services are for later stages of their loved one’s situation.  The sooner caregivers locate and enroll their family member in a program, the greater the benefit for all concerned.  Finding the appropriate day care can be challenging, but has grown much easier over time. 
 
More adult day care centers are popping up in different areas.  You may begin to notice more of them than you did previously, which expands options for places to start. 
 
THE FIRST HURDLE

Well meaning family and friends may have suggested day care, using a variety of rationales that can sometimes border on invasive.  If you are the primary caregiver, take the suggestions into consideration, while firmly stopping anything that makes you uncomfortable.  But, take the opportunity to tell everyone offering advice that when you are ready to look for a site, you will appreciate their help.
 
The concerns you may have about quality of care and cost are valid.  The intangible concerns of whether it is the “right” decision may require more thought and even some counseling through local support groups.  You must feel comfortable about your choice to utilize day care to enhance your relationship with your loved one, and improve their day-to-day experience.
 
Once you come to the decision that day care will enhance your loved one’s experiences and offer you peace of mind, you can begin looking for facilities to meet your needs.
 
WHERE TO LOOK
National organizations are especially helpful if your loved one spends time with family out of your area. See http://www.aoa.gov/.  Begin by learning which resources are state managed.  A consumer guide is available to help navigate the options.
 
The Alzheimer’s Association has care resources, a zip code locator for the division serving your area, and other service friendly carriers to help with your search.  Their section on adding caregiving skills can be utilized to help caregivers manage their experience before and after the loved one has entered a suitable day care environment.  Since caregiver and loved one’s needs change after daycare placement, evaluating caregiving skills diminishes stress levels.  Find them at http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_caresource.asp.  Do navigate the entire site to find hidden gems that will enhance your creativity in searching for options.
 
Your city and county guides online will connect you with day care centers.  Some facilities are privately owned and operated, and will be found through phone directories or advertisements.  Interview every facility to your comfort level, remembering that you will eventually need to make a decision. 
 
Some facilities may be difficult to get into, and switching from one to another isn’t an easy solution.  Inquire about temporary admission, which will free up space in the program for long-term care needs, and allow you to test how that particular center meets everyone’s needs.  If you are able to set up more than one of these situations, it can stave off the anxiety of finding a permanent program, or passing the time of being on a waiting list for your first choice.
 
WHAT IS DAY CARE, REALLY?
Day care is a managed program that is designed for specific individuals who cannot stay at home by themselves.  Frail elderly persons, individuals with memory loss, or seniors with other challenges are candidates for day care.
 
Facilities are managed by state or local programs, including non-profit organizations.  Private day care may be a franchise, or run by an individual who rents or owns a facility.
 
Clients are overseen during the hours they attend.  Hours will vary, but generally span regular business hours (9 a.m to 5 p.m) to accommodate caregivers who work outside the home. 
 
Meals, snacks and activities are part of the day care experience.  There may be trips to shopping centers (with caregiver permission), restaurants or other off site expeditions.  Each facility offers a calendar of activities to orient loved one and family to the day care structure.  Most programs include arts and crafts, music, time for rest and visiting with other clients.
 
Reputable day care programs focus on “caring.”  Clients are offered a place to enjoy the day with an emphasis on retaining self esteem.  Day care is not a “dumping ground”!   Although loved ones (especially those with dementia) may resist attending, staff members are skilled in making clients feel comfortable.  Loved ones will share stories about their day, perhaps bringing home crafts made in “class.”  Activities will span the range of clients’ abilities.
 
Day care is an enhancement to the journey of caregiver and loved one.  Family members can enjoy a sense of security that their loved one is attended to.  Loved ones can develop a life outside the home that is interesting, fun and safe.  They do not have to worry, and if they show concern or anxiety, staff will reassure them as needed.
 
As an arrangement to delay or eliminate placement in a long term care facility, day care is a preferred option by lay and professional caregivers.  The combination of activities, change of atmosphere and competent personnel can deliver quality care.  For some individuals, day care offers a unique type of “therapy” that doesn’t require a doctor’s order. 
 
MORE BENEFITS
Caregivers will have an improved relationship with their loved one.  Stress reduction may be the apparent bonus, but the joy of seeing a loved one interact with others can improve everyone’s overall outlook.  Even the “normal” aging process has its progressive side, but day care can become a restorative force in a loved one’s journey.
 
Programs may offer caregivers options for counseling and support, and information about other possibilities such as at home respite care. 
 
Connecting with other caregivers serves as a reminder that many individuals have chosen the path to work with their loved one by delivering “hands on” care.  Relationships outside of day care may be formed over time, creating new friends and resources. 
 
Feeling alone is an unwelcome side effect for caregiver and loved one.  Day care reaches out to both individuals, creating a solid atmosphere of support.  The miracle of connection with others can be explored in a professional environment that yields many personal benefits. 
 
 
 

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