I have a full-time job but mom isn't safe at home alone during the day. Is adult day care a good idea?


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.

Lynn Ivey left her banking career to care for her mother with dementia. Adult day care became a critical component for her mother, providing social stimulation and medical supervision, while enabling her to continue living at home.

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I agree with Mia Madre. My mom went to an adult day care center and they did a financial intake of mom's finances--ie. what her income was vs what all of her expenses were. Many of the participants at this day care paid NOTHING!! My mom oaid about $50/week, including van transportation for door-to-door delivery. The van driver made sure that mom got safely into her house. Mom really liked it. The facility that mom was in rec'd some funds from the county and was called a "Medical center" meaning that it had RN's on staff to give any medications she needed, etc. The center had the usual activities of BINGO, current events, arts and crafts, "dog therapy" where a pet is brought to the center so that the seniors can give it treats and pet the dog.
Please check out the senior centers (another name for "adult daycare.") We signed mom up for 3 days a week and we had home health aides come for 3-4 hours a day for the rest of the week.
My husband (85, dementia) attends adult day health center 2 days a week during golf season and 3 days a week the rest of the year. I think he would prefer to stay home and have someone come in, but I think this is better for him. He interacts with other people, they go on outings, and they have programs. All day programs are not created equal. He was in a good one that had too few clients and closed, then the next one was really not satisfactory, and his case manager suggested she'd heard good things of the one he is in now. He's been going for 3 years. He doesn't need them, but this center offers such services and showers and toenail care.
Rather than force her to go somewhere she isn't comfortable and doesn't want to be--most likely because she feels like she's losing her independence-- why not try in home care?

Your mom will certainly appreciate that you are trying to do help her retain her independence and maintain an enriched life.