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Saturday July 30, 2016

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Choose an Adult Day Care Service

Can you offer any tips on finding and choosing a good adult day care service for an elderly parent? My 82-year-old mother, who is moving in with me, has Alzheimer's and needs attention during the day while I'm at work.

Adult day care services can be a great option for caregivers who work or for those who just need a break during the day. Here's what you should know, along with some tips to help you find and choose one.

Adult Day Services

The adult day care service business has grown rapidly in recent years. According to the National Adult Day Services Association, there are around 5,700 programs operating in the United States today.

As the name implies, an adult day care center provides care for elderly seniors who cannot care for themselves at home. While services will vary from center to center, they typically provide personal care, meals and snacks, various activities and social interaction in a safe supportive environment. Additionally, many centers also provide health services, such as medication management, various therapies, exercise and transportation to and from the facility.

Adult day care centers generally operate programs during normal business hours, five days a week. However, some centers may offer additional evening and weekend services as well.

Depending on where you live, costs for care will vary anywhere between $25 to more than $100 per day. The national average is $65 per day.

Unfortunately, in most cases, original Medicare (Part A and B) does not pay for adult day care. While some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans and many long-term care insurance policies will pay for expenses, most seniors (or their families) will pay for the care out-of-pocket.

If your mom has a low amount of income and can't afford this, many states offer Medicaid waiver programs. Additionally, some states have Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE programs) that provide financial assistance. Contact your state Medicaid office (see Medicaid.gov) for more information. The VA even provides adult day care to eligible veterans enrolled in their Medical Benefits Package. See VA.gov/geriatrics to learn more.

How to Choose

Your first step in searching for an adult day care center is to determine the kinds of services your mother needs. After you do that, here are some tips to help you locate and choose a good provider.

Start by contacting your Area Agency on Aging (call 800-677-1116 to get your local number) to get referrals to adult day service programs in your area. You can also search online at the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) website at NADSA.org/locator or check your phone book yellow pages under "Adult Day Care" or "Seniors Services."

Once you have a list of a few centers, call them to find out their eligibility criteria, if they offer the types of services your mother needs, if they are accepting new clients, if they are licensed and/or registered with a state agency (this is not required in all states), their hours of operation and what they charge.

After you identify a few good centers, go in for a visit. Find out about the staffing ratio (at least one staff member for every six participants is recommended) and what kind of training they have. While you're there, notice the cleanness and smell of the facility. Is it homey and inviting? Does the staff seem friendly and knowledgeable? Also be sure to taste the food and consider making an unannounced visit.

To help you rate your visit, the NADSA offers a helpful checklist of questions to ask. To view this checklist visit NADSA.org and click on "Choosing a Center."

After your visit, be sure to check the center's references. Get names and phone numbers of at least two or three families who have used the center you are considering and call them.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published July 22, 2016
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