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Whether you are familiar or not with adult day care centers, we are quite lucky to have a few here in our area. Today, I want to share some general information about adult day centers, services that you can expect to find at them and the benefits for both the care receiver and caregiver.

Let us start with the name "adult day care." That title could turn people off from the start, but do not let it. I realize that a stigma can come with the name of a service, and, to be honest, I never really cared for the term "senior center" either, but that is an article for another day.

An adult day center could have one focus or could provide a combination of all three types of care: social adult day care, adult day health care and Alzheimer’s/dementia-specific day care. All three have similar goals of providing safe, supervised care during the day while providing personal care, meals, social activities, recreation, and often, transportation. Individual services may differ from location to location, but generally, services include:

— Social adult day care: meals, recreation, socialization, outings and some health-related services and case management depending on type of staffing.

— Adult day health care: provide the same as social plus therapy (occupational, physical and speech) based on assessed need and treatment plan.

— Alzheimer’s/Dementia adult day care: a specialized adult day care with trained staff to meet the specific needs of those living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Social interaction and recreation developed to meet the physical, cognitive and social needs based on abilities.

Why are these services beneficial to care receivers? The first reason is interaction with others. Socialization is so important, and while they love interacting with their caregivers, those being cared for need stimulation. New people, engaging activities, exercise, involvement and socialization are all beneficial for both cognitive and physical health. Getting up, getting dressed and going somewhere gives purpose. We all need purpose in life and sometimes when failing in health, we start to lose a sense of purpose.

While at the adult day center, our loved ones can benefit from exercise, cognitive stimulation, social interaction and interaction with peers, education and more. They can be a member of the club; a club where they can make new friends at a time of life people often experience a lot of loss. The adult day center is also a safe place where someone can monitor the individual’s health on a regular basis.

Why is this service beneficial for you as a caregiver? Because you need a break! This may be just the thing to help you keep your job and feel secure knowing that your loved one is safe and secure while you are gone during the day. You can utilize the services to run errands or take a nap; it is good for your health. Often, caregivers tell everyone they are fine when in reality they are not. Physical and mental health are often at risk while caregiving. Caregivers often stop taking care of their needs and put the other person first. Burnout interferes with a caregiver’s ability to function and is actually a leading cause of nursing home placement for care receivers.

Use this time to take care of your own health and your own appointments, go see your friends and socialize. Go do something that brings you pleasure. Most of all, do not feel guilty. Caregiving is hard. With it comes hard emotions and hard decisions. In addition to the respite from caregiving, adult day centers often offer services to help caregivers as well; these include connecting caregivers to resources in the community and offering support groups.

In order to keep your loved one home longer, utilize the services in your community to make the caregiving process more manageable. You may get push-back from your loved one or you may not like the idea yourself as new and unfamiliar can be hard at first, but it can also be so positive for all involved. If attending an adult day center does not go smoothly right away, do not give up. I encourage you to try to commit to trying it for at least a month. This way it can become a new routine for all involved before judging whether it is right for you and your loved one.

Many are concerned about cost. However, cost can vary based on services offered and location. Price drives many decisions in life; however, the cost of adult day services is often about half the cost of in-home care for the same amount of time. The cost is also about half that of institutional care when budgeting out care options.

Insurance is not my personal specialty, it is best to check with your local adult day care service provider for the best understanding of financial assistance. To the best of my understanding, Medicare does not cover adult day care. Medicaid dollars may cover part of adult day care and adult day health if they meet the qualifications. VA benefits may provide coverage for adult day health services. Some long-term care policies will also help cover adult day services, check your plan or policy for more details. Check with your tax professional to see if any of the costs associated with your loved one’s care can be deducted from your taxes.

According to the National Institute on Adult Day Care, they recommend that you choose a center that:

— Assesses abilities and needs before admission.

— Offers services that meet your needs — transportation, health screenings, counseling.

— Provides activities to meet the need of your loved one: active/sensory program or recreational vs. rehabilitative needs.

— Is a gateway resource for you to other community services.

— Follows state guidelines and has the appropriately trained staff/volunteers.

— Communicates clear criteria for terminating their services.

To find an adult day center, you can call your local Area Agency on Aging. In the Champaign County area, contact the East Central Area Agency on Aging (309-829-2065). For more information on adult day services, The National Adult Day Services Association ( is a great national resource.

To read more family-life topics, visit the statewide family-life blog, 'Family Files,' at For more information on family-life-related topics and programs, visit our local University of Illinois Extension website at or contact Chelsey Byers Gerstenecker at 217-333-7672 or