Adult day centers offer security and stimulation for older adults – The Oakland Press

Cynthia Colbert of Rochester Hills was exhausted. She took her mom everywhere with her, afraid to leave her alone in case she wandered away. Charity had been a leader in her church the go-to person volunteers relied on for advice and now relied on her daughter for everything.

Desperate for help, Cynthia started an online search for a place nearby that would help support her mom, who was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago. She landed on Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigans adult day program in Auburn Hills, and it has proven to be life changing for her family.

Now, 90-year-old Charity has a place to go every day that is manageable, safe and friendly. She eats lunch with friends, stays busy with projects, and at the end of the day, the bus that picked her up in the morning drops her off at home. Shes mellower and sleeps better at night.

I do a lot of volunteer work and I had to be with her all day, Cynthia says. I had to give attention to her 24/7. That put a big strain on me mentally, to keep her busy. I was living her life, and mine, too. That was overwhelming for me. Charity lives with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.

Today, Cynthia has time to take care of her own business without the constant anxiety. She says the staff at the center, on the campus of Sacred Heart Church, have some kind of magic touch.

Perhaps having someone with her all day that can give her special attention, that helped her. They are able to give her that one-on-one. It is very helpful. It has improved her memory, it has helped her socially, says Cynthia, 69.

Adult day programs offer a place for older adults, typically 60 and above, to go during weekdays to socialize, have lunch, and participate in activities ranging from brain games to singing to pet therapy. Some even offer personal care services like bathing and giving medication. Like many adult day programs, Catholic Charities (CCSEM) programs, in Auburn Hills and St. Clair Shores, are geared toward older adults with dementia.

The benefit to caregivers is they can hit that reset button on their mental health.

That respite can help rejuvenate them so they can better care for their loved one when theyre back home, says Kristin Wilson, the Area Agency on Aging 1-Bs manager of social services. Its important to know that adult day programs help both the participant and the caregiver the participants through socialization and interaction, and the caregivers by getting time to themselves.

The Area Agency on Aging 1-B (AAA 1-B) provides funding to adult day programs throughout its service area.

The hourly rate at adult day centers varies (CCSEMs average is $14/hour), and most programs ask for a donation to support their meal program. Most also use a sliding fee scale depending on a number of factors.

COVID shut down many adult day programs for a good part of 2020, but most of those in the AAA 1-B family have slowly begun to reopen with limited hours, restrictions on participant numbers and strict COVID safety protocols. CCSEM reopened its centers in July.

During the four or so months of closure, some participants conditions declined to the point where they did not return; in fact, the CCSEM programs have fewer than half the participants as before the pandemic took hold. Today, each center has between 6 and 10 but theyve maintained high staffing ratios. Families that have been exposed to COVID keep their loved ones home, and so far, there have been no infections at the centers.

Within weeks of reopening, says Nikki Harvey, manager of the St. Clair Shores site, Families were telling us that even just being at the center caused their loved ones to sleep better. We heard about sleep disruptions, which means much more burned-out caregivers. Participants were more disruptive during the day and families really suffered.

For participants, many just sat and watched TV when the centers were closed. That can worsen memory, says Harvey. When re-shutdown happened in Michigan, we saw that childcare centers remained open. We knew we couldnt close because of the potential decline. We wanted to do everything we could to not let that happen.

Charity did not start at the Auburn Hills center until October, so there was no disruption in her schedule. Today, she goes for 4-5 hours every day.

We have a very seasoned staff, says Kaitlyn Cooke, program manager of the Auburn Hills center. They dont have to be certified, but they have experience with seniors. They want to get goofy and fun and connect with the seniors. They are people who care and want to help other people. They understand dementia and the effect it has on these folks and their families.

They are very skilled there, says Cynthia. Its important that you research who is caring for your loved one, especially if they cant tell you what they do when theyre away from you.

For information about adult day programs in your area, contact the Area Agency on Aging 1-B at 800-852-7795 or go to

Content provided by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B

The average age of an adult day program participant is 72, with two-thirds of them women.

About 35% of seniors in adult day programs live with an adult child, while 20% live with a spouse, 18% in an institutional setting, 13% with parents or other relatives, and 11% live alone.

Nationwide, 52% of adult day center clients have some form of cognitive impairment.

The national average daily rate for adult day programs is $61. Consider that the average annual cost for adult day services is $17,904 as opposed to homemaker home care at $44,616 and a home health aide at $45,760. Assisted living is $43,200, with semiprivate nursing home care at $80,300 and private nursing home care at $91,250.

Nearly 80% of adult day services centers have a nursing professional on staff. Almost 50% of these centers have a social work professional on staff, and about 60% offer case management services. Roughly 50% provide physical, occupational, or speech therapy.

More than 80% of adult day care participants attend full days and 46% attend five days per week, enabling family caregivers to remain in the workforce.

Source: Aging in Place

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Adult day centers offer security and stimulation for older adults - The Oakland Press

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