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Frequently Asked Questions About Adult Day Services

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There are two basic models of adult day services in Contra Costa: Adult Social Day Services and Adult Day Health Care. Within each of these models, programs may choose to specialize care to specific populations such as individuals with memory loss. The two distinct models are described below.

What are Adult Day Services?

Adult day services programs offer daytime care for older adults and people with disabilities in a group setting. Participants who have chronic health conditions or who benefit from supervision and socialization may be picked up at their homes or dropped off by family members at the day services program. There they will spend a few hours during the day at a program involved in stimulating activities and interacting with other participants in a safe environment, which helps to eliminate falls and injuries, and greatly reduces boredom and isolation. Programs may vary from one to six days a week, depending on location.

Adult day services programs provide a wide range of activities and a safe place for the frail elder to spend the day while the caregiver is working or needs time away from caregiving duties, called respite.

What is Adult Day Health Care?

In addition to providing a wide range of activities for people, an Adult Day Health Care program is prescribed by the participant’s physician and provides services such as blood pressure and insulin monitoring, medication reminders, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or speech therapy. Each participant’s care is guided by a care plan that focuses on maintenance or improvement of well-being. A registered nurse is on duty at all three Adult Day Health Care programs in Contra Costa: in El Sobrante, Pleasant Hill, and Antioch.

How do I encourage my family member to attend an adult day services center?

Resistance and apprehension are natural reactions for anyone faced with a new situation, especially for people who have not been engaged in group social activities recently. In general, it takes about one month for a new person to feel comfortable in a program. While this adjustment period may be challenging for some, in the long run the program is beneficial for the individual and the caregiver.

Different approaches can be used to make attendance a positive experience depending on the individual. When planning a first visit to a center, review the activity calendar and talk to the center staff about a particular interest or activity that your family member has. For example, if your family member is a musician, schedule the first visit during music therapy or a group sing-a-long. Take the time to find the right activity that will engage the individual.

Many visitors feel more comfortable if they have a specific role when they attend. One new person may enjoy “volunteering” for lunch service, setting the table, serving or clearing the tables. Another participant may enjoy the job of watering the plants.

Finally, a caregiver could refer to the fact that their family member’s doctor has recommended adult day services as a way to enhance general health. A doctor’s referral or prescription is a pre-requisite for enrollment in the majority of adult day programs.

Ideally, the individual should be strongly encouraged to give the program a try. Minimize or eliminate the choice to not attend the program. Let them know that the other individuals and staff will miss their presence and help if they fail to arrive.

How can I get comfortable letting strangers care for my family member?

Every caregiver needs respite (time for oneself) so he or she can continue to adequately care for his or her frail elderly or disabled relative at home. Adult day services centers can provide a break in your caregiving duties but you, the caregiver, are still responsible for the vast majority of care. You must take care of yourself in order to accomplish this. Many times family caregivers will mistakenly sacrifice themselves by keeping the relative at home because Mom or Dad makes the statement “I don’t feel like going today.” However, once your family member becomes familiar with – and accustomed to – the program, they look forward to new friendships and group interaction. Confidence that you are doing the right thing is absolutely essential. Many studies have shown that adult day services is the best approach, both for the caregiver and for the person living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

Do the programs accept people with Alzheimer’s and dementia?

All the programs accept frail elderly and those having memory impairment or other disabilities.

Is there a cost to attend the program?

Costs vary depending on the level of care provided at the program. There are different programs available that charge according to the services they provide. To determine the actual cost for each individual, it is helpful to know if the care recipient receives or is qualified for Medi-Cal, has long-term care insurance, or other private health insurance, or is a Veteran. Call a center to inquire about their services and fee schedule.

Can a participant who uses a walker or a wheelchair attend a program?

Yes. Usually those who cannot feed themselves or visit the restrooms independently must come with caregivers when attending an adult day services program. People can come unattended to the Adult Day Health Care program. Each center has unique guidelines so please inquire during your first phone contact.

What types of activities are usually offered at adult day programs?

All individual and group activities are designed for enjoyment and engagement. Stimulating word games, reminiscent group discussions, art therapy, music therapy, intergenerational activities, pet therapy, exercises, bingo and special celebrations are some of the activities offered.

My mother often naps, is that okay in the program?

Oftentimes people need rest periods as they age. The way this is handled will vary from program to program. It depends on the program and the reasons for sleep: health problems versus depression, for example. Some places will offer a rest area, while others will attempt to involve your loved one in activities to avoid sleeping. Make sure you discuss this with the admissions person prior to your loved one attending the program.

Who will help my father with personal issues, such as toileting?

This too will vary from program to program and it is important to call the centers and ask. Adult day services staff will likely cue him to use the restroom and may even walk him to the restroom. Adult Day Health Centers will take him to the restroom and assist him while there. An Adult Day Health Care Center will also help him eat, get around, etc. It is important that you relay all of your loved one’s needs to the admissions person so you can find the program which best meets his needs.

Are there funds available to help low-income participants?

Some programs have scholarships to help pay for the services. If the individual is approved for Medi-Cal and referred by his or her physician, that person can participate in Adult Day Health Care at no cost to her or him. Please inquire about the fee policy for the center you are interested in.

Do the programs provide respite care for the caregiver?

Yes. Many people bring their family member so that they can have time to attend to urgent business errands, meet with friends, exercise, relax, or even read a book. Caregivers often need some time for themselves and other family members.

What about people who do not speak English? Are there programs for them?

Some centers have bilingual and bicultural capabilities. Please inquire with the center of your choice.

What about people who do not speak English? Are there programs for them?

Some centers have bilingual and bicultural capabilities. Please inquire with the center of your choice.

How does Adult Day Services differ from a senior center?

People who attend senior centers are usually able to get themselves to and from the center and participate in activities that would be difficult for someone who is frail or has memory impairment. Adult day services center participants are there because they may benefit from a modified environment that provides enhanced levels of activity programming, structure and supervision.

Is this just babysitting?

No, the programs are goal-oriented to encourage learning, participation and maximization of existing skills. Each individual is monitored to ensure that he or she is included and enjoying each activity. New participants soon begin to feel a sense of purpose and belonging and look forward to the next time they all meet.

Do the programs have an emergency policy?

The programs require families to sign a document that allows the program to call 911 in an emergency. Additional documents, such as an Advanced Health Care Directive, are required if the individual has one and families are encouraged to complete if they have not already done so.

Do the programs take drop-ins or someone who is in town visiting for a few days?

Although the programs recognize that sometimes there is a need for a short-term “drop in” visit in an emergency or for someone visiting from out of town, most programs cannot provide that service. Necessary medical records and assessments require time to secure and thus prevent a “drop-in” arrangement.

How can I be a better caregiver?

Caregiving is a big yet rewarding responsibility. Your job and effort is valuable and yet a caregiver must maintain a balance of taking care of oneself while providing assistance to another. Caregiver support groups are available at some of the adult day services centers. Please see our Support Groups.

What adult day services programs are available for older adults and people with disabilities?

See our Program Locations page.

My mother has been attending this Adult Day Care Center for two years and has enjoyed the warm, caring and individualized attention from the staff and volunteers. With a small group, she is not as easily distracted with other activities taking place simultaneously. She always leaves the place with a smile on her face.

~ Sandie, Caregiver

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