By Lynn Ivey
Q: When I drop my elderly mother off at adult day care, should I stay with her for awhile until she gets acclimated?
A: During your trial visit, it's fine to stay with Mom until she gets accustomed to her surroundings. But after that first visit, it's best for the adult day care center staff to redirect Mom's attention and get her quickly involved in the morning activity, whether it's breakfast, conversation, exercise or something else.
Feel free to visit for lunch on occasion. By all means join her for any special family events at the adult day care center. But don't hang around there every day. That can make your loved one nervous or fixated upon waiting to go home. Your focus should be on helping Mom enjoy the center and all it has to offer, independent of you.
When you're evaluating potential adult day care centers, plan an early morning visit to see how they handle the morning transition. Notice the types of participants who attend. If your Mom doesn't have dementia, are there others at the center who can converse at her level? Visit several different days to see which days fit best.
Once you've selected a center, help the staff learn about your Mom's individual interests and preferences so they can redirect her focus at drop-off time. If the center doesn't offer breakfast, it may still provide morning coffee, newspapers, and basic conversation about current events. It mirrors what your Mom might do at home, except now she's doing it with a group of friends.