Cerita Miller is no stranger to stressed-out family caregivers.
“I just need a break,” she often hears from daughters, sons, and spouses looking to register their parent or partner in her organization’s Senior’s Day Program. A registered nurse, Miller is the president and CEO of The Lighthouse Retreat, the home-care and adult-day-care agency she owns in Ajax, Ontario.
More than 1 in 3 unpaid caregivers of Canadians receiving home care feel angry, depressed, or otherwise distressed about their care-providing duties. If you’re the primary caregiver for someone you love, you know how exhausting this role can be. That’s one reason you’ll want occasional time off.
Whether you need to rejuvenate, go to work, take care of a personal need, or go on a trip, you can get short-term caregiving relief through respite care. There are different types of respite care—one of which is adult day services.
Who Can Benefit from an Adult Day Program?
Older adults needing hands-on care in a social environment with activities may benefit from an adult day program. “Great candidates are adults who need an opportunity to get out of their homes and receive more cognitive stimulation,” said Miller.
She recommends adult day centres to “those who have been diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s, who have brain injuries, those who are frail seniors who are spending a lot more time at home with minimal interaction.” In The Lighthouse Retreat’s Senior’s Day Program, Miller estimates that 95% of participants have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, which she said is typical for adult day cares.
Enrolling in adult day services may be wise if your elderly family member:
- Is frail, has mild to moderate cognitive impairment, or has another medical condition requiring frequent care,
- Has lost the ability to structure their daily activities,
- Feels isolated and lonely and craves social interaction,
- Is anxious or depressed and needs emotional support, or
- Has physical limitations making them feel their home is no longer safe and accessible.
Benefits of Adult Day Care
How Much Does Senior Day Care Cost?
You can lower your fees by registering your loved one in an adult day program subsidized by the Ontario government.
With a medical referral (e.g., from the family doctor), you can apply for respite care through a publicly funded adult day program. A coordinator from the province’s Home and Community Care Support Services will assess your family member’s needs and, if necessary, refer them to an adult day program.
However, this process can take months, said Miller, partly because government-funded day-care centres usually have long waitlists.
To get in faster, you may want to contact private services. “For most private day programs, the waitlists are not as long,” said Miller. Private services may also provide more activities, extra care, and more specialized programming (e.g., for people with Alzheimer’s disease).
“A private adult day program may cost you between $65 to over $100 a day,” said Miller. She added that families can claim the expenses as tax deductions and that some insurance policies cover the costs.
Is Adult Day Care the Right Choice?
Adult day care is not for people “at risk to themselves or to others,” said Miller. That includes those whose cognitive impairment is severe.
“For some people with dementia, they are what we call ‘exit seekers,’” she explained. “They are constantly trying to get out of the home. It becomes a danger.” If your family member needs 24-hour care, a better option may be a long-term care home or a retirement community with security and memory care.
Seek Help Soon
Whether your family member keeps living at home or moves into a care facility, it’s important to seek help sooner rather than later.
“I strongly encourage families,” said Miller, “if your loved ones are diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or they have a brain injury, or you see their cognition is declining, don’t wait for it to get worse, or for you as a care provider to become overwhelmed, before you start accessing service.”
When clients with later-stage dementia enroll, she said, “oftentimes it is harder for them to get them into the program. If we’re able to get them in from the beginning, it does make a difference to stabilize that disease.”
For you as a caregiver, that means less stress. For your family member with dementia, earlier admission can mean a richer quality of life. Whatever the reason for attending, these programs can be fun and invigorating. Is adult day care right for your parent or spouse?
- Discover the benefits of adult day care from The Lighthouse Retreat.
- Is it time to explore downsizing into a retirement community with memory care? We’re happy to chat with you about living options. Please book a time for a friendly, free, no-obligation consultation.