Should I use in-home care or adult day care?
by Carol Bradley Bursack, Editor-in-Chief
Should I Use In-Home Care or Adult Day Care?
You've got mom set up for several hours a week of in-home care. She does well enough, but she seems lonely. The caregivers who come to the house are nice and they do their job, but they are all quite young and Mom could use some peer interaction.
Adult Day Care and In-Home Care: Joining the Two Options
Some of the most successful arrangements for elder care that I've seen have been a combination of adult day care and in-home care. The adult children like the idea of in-home care to get Mom up and about in the morning, since they must be at their jobs. They also like to know someone can help her get ready for bed. But in the middle, Mom must cope with a long day and the caregivers, even if hired for the full day, aren't always geared toward the kind of company Mom likes.
Enter adult day care. Adult day care, or "day services" as some are called, offer many things to an elder but two of the biggest pluses is that the elder gets out of the home and she has peers with whom she can interact. Elders often think they just want to stay home and watch TV, however that is often because they see no other option or they are just used to that life. If the family hires an in-home caregiver, there may be someone to visit with and maybe go through some photo albums or something for entertainment, but there is no peer interaction.
Staying Home: Beating Depression
Not only does the elder lack peer interaction if he or she is at home all day with only a few hours of help from an in-home caregiver, the elder can get depressed, which can become a serious health issue. Yes, good in-home agencies look for ways to get the elder out and about when they can. But many don't have the vehicle to handle a disabled elder.
Many adult day services have buses. Most are flexible about how often people go to the center, and what time of day. So, often the best of both worlds is to have an in-home caregiver come early in the morning and get Mom up and dressed, with a good breakfast in her. They may watch TV or play a game until the agreed upon time for the day care bus. The caregiver checks out after Mom is on the bus.
When Mom's time at the center is over, a caregiver from the in-home agency is there to greet her, give her supper and interact with her until she is ready for bed. Family fills in for some of these hours, and if the elder needs someone there at night, that person's schedule can usually be adjusted.
This active social life often can improve or hold off depression caused by lack of options.
Adult Day Care and In-Home Care: Flexible Options
The key idea here is that both in-home care and adult day services are flexible options. Combined, they can often give what one alone can't. Mom likes day care Monday, Wednesday and Friday but likes staying home the other days?
The bottom line is that both in-home care and adult day care can be arranged in ways that serve the elder best while giving variety to a life that can otherwise become stale. They are both expensive options, but they are options that work. If you need to pay for care, this is one combination you may want to consider.