By Lynn Ivey
Q: My elderly mother lives with me. I work full-time and am not home during the day, but I don't think she's safe when she stays alone. Should we look into adult day care?
A: Here are a few suggestions. Most adult day care centers allow you a free visit, which could last from an hour to a full day. Avoid using the term "day care". It has a connotation of babysitting, or the elder not being able to care for themselves. You could introduce the subject by saying, "Mom, I found a new club. Let's try out lunch at the club tomorrow." A lunch and tour with your mom could be her first visit.
For the second visit, I recommend that you stay for a little while until your mom gets engaged in the activities, then say you've got to run an errand and will be back later. Your mom could stay for the afternoon or the day. Leave behind a note with the staff telling your mom how much you love her and that you can't wait to hear about her day when you return.
Depending upon your mom's cognitive state, you might wish to introduce the idea that going to the adult day care center and participating in all the activities can be her job. That could help give your loved one a sense of purpose.
Talk with the adult day care center staff as well. They are accustomed to helping families with this transition and may have additional ideas after meeting your mom.