Adult day care is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in elder care. It allows seniors to continue living in the community while still receiving supportive services and enjoying social and recreational opportunities that most can only get in residential long-term care facilities. This service is a godsend for both caregivers and seniors alike, but many often wonder, what does a senior do all day at an adult day center?
There’s no denying the stigma that adult day care carries. Many centers are working hard to combat the notion that they simply provide “glorified adult babysitting.” In fact, many elder care experts recommend referring to adult day care by another name, such as “the center” or “the club” to avoid infantilizing senior attendees. Once an elder leaves their comfort zone and tries attending a day program, they usually find it much more rewarding and engaging than sitting in front of the TV day after day.
For example, Helen, an 82-year-old retired nurse feels that her decision to attend an adult day center was a good one. Since she began going to the Hope PACE Care Center in Fort Myers, Florida, she feels that her quality of life has increased due to their holistic approach to care.
She mentions that, in addition to better coordinating her health care, the center’s staff helps her in a variety of other ways. With their assistance, Helen was able to access large-print library books so she could read more easily, and they gave her a mini Christmas tree during the holidays to decorate her home. According to Helen, it’s the personalized, comprehensive approach to care that she appreciates most. “There’s no aspect of my life they haven’t touched,” she says.
A Typical Day at Adult Day Care
To provide seniors and family caregivers with a better idea of what goes on after a senior is dropped off at an adult day center, AgingCare visited the Hope PACE Care Center. Here’s what we learned firsthand about what a typical day might look like from the perspective of your elderly loved one
8 a.m. Arrival
Most facilities open around eight or nine in the morning and offer transportation services for seniors who cannot drive themselves or who don’t have someone to drop them off.
8:15 a.m. Eat breakfast
Hope PACE has a designated space for walkers and canes that guests don’t need to use once they are in the facility. Seniors drop off their mobility aids once they arrive and then head to the group dining area. When it comes to breakfast, day centers generally offer a variety of food options. Some, like Hope PACE, employ nutritionists who work with seniors to design meal and snack plans that follow their dietary restrictions and complement their care plans.
9 a.m. Catch up on current events
Every morning, a staff member at Hope PACE reads newspaper articles aloud for those seniors who cannot or do not want to read the paper on their own. Guests are encouraged to discuss these headlines while they enjoy morning beverages like coffee, tea and juice.
10 a.m. Work up a sweat
Daily exercise classes have become staples at most senior centers. Classes are often offered at different times throughout the day so that guests (also called ‘participants’) can choose when they want to work out. Popular offerings include chair yoga, tai chi, Wii Fit games, light strength training, balance exercises and more.
11 a.m. Enjoy the great outdoors
Many adult day centers feature courtyards, decks or other outside spaces where seniors can spend time outdoors, weather permitting. Participants can get some sun, take a walk, birdwatch and enjoy the fresh air. Hope PACE even has a workspace on their outdoor patio where seniors who like to garden can pot and tend to flowers and other plants.
12 p.m. Have lunch
In addition to providing hot, nutritious meals on-site, many adult day care centers offer nutrition counseling that enables seniors to eat better at home. Staff members at Hope PACE can organize grocery shopping trips and even help attendees plan menus and find recipes for simple homecooked meals that accommodate their dietary restrictions and preferences.
1 p.m. Physical and occupational therapy
Adult day health care centers like Hope PACE offer physical and occupational therapy services. Physical therapy facilitates recovery from injury or surgery, while occupational therapy helps seniors adapt and hone daily living skills that help them remain independent. Therapy helps seniors regain and maintain maximum medical beds on rent function so that they can continue leading active and engaging lives and avoid placement in long-term care.
2 p.m. Bowl a 245 on the Wii
Adult day centers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and many have expanded their activities offerings to include video games. The Nintendo Wii is especially popular with seniors, and games on this console include bowling, tennis, baseball, golf and much more.
2:30 p.m. Snack time and socialization
Friendships between seniors and care staff are encouraged in most centers. Getting to know participants on an individual level is integral to providing personalized, quality care.