It’s no secret that older adults overwhelmingly want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. Due to high housing costs and other considerations, more families than ever are living in multigenerational homes. While this can be beneficial to all involved, adult children work outside the home and grandchildren are at school, often resulting in the older adult being left alone during the day.
In the Bay Area, we are fortunate to have a plethora of social, cultural and engaging activities for all ages. However, because of physical decline or cognitive loss, many older Bay Area adults are no longer able to participate in the activities they previously enjoyed. For those who have lost their ability to drive or are at risk if left alone, there are many benefits from the structured and supportive environment of an adult day program or an adult day health program.
Adult day programs and adult day health programs provide care and companionship in a safe, caring and stimulating environment. They are a resource for those with physical limitations who need additional assistance and for those with limited functioning due to memory loss who need supervision during the day, as well as a source of respite for the families and caregivers who love them.
The programs are outlets for creativity, discussion and peer support, and opportunities for enhanced social interaction. Participants also receive varying levels of medical supervision by registered nurses and social workers, while skilled physical and occupational therapy services are also offered. Activities are therapeutic and recreational, daily exercise class is provided and nutritious meals are served. The goal of these programs is to enhance the quality of life for both seniors and their caregivers.
Strength in diversity
There is no one kind of family that can benefit from using day health services; those in a variety of situations can take advantage of extra support.
Nancy, 91, a retired teacher, lives with her husband in their Palo Alto home. Their adult children are scattered throughout the United States. Nancy has increasing health needs – she now uses a walker, needs assistance in the bathroom and is experiencing vision and hearing loss. Being creative, inquisitive and social, Nancy could find an outlet for these needs by participating in an adult day program.
John, 84, a former attorney, lives with his daughter’s family in Santa Clara. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago. John’s family is not home during the day; it is no longer safe for John to be left alone for long periods of time, and caregiving costs can be expensive. In an adult day program, John would be safe, enjoy peer support and have supervision during the day.
Bill, 73, a U.S. Navy veteran and retired engineer, lives in a subsidized senior housing complex in San Jose. While he has an affordable place to live and help with meals and cleaning, he stays home all day watching television and has become more depressed, anxious and lonely. By participating in an adult day program, Bill could enjoy socialization, daily exercise and enhanced independence.
Nancy, John and Bill all could enjoy the benefits of enrolling in such a program with advantages that include:
• Preservation and promotion of independence, leading to enhanced ability to engage in daily activities.
• Additional stimulation, which can delay or prevent loved ones from needing to move to a long-term care facility.
• Enhanced peace of mind for caregivers, reducing their stress, anxiety and guilt.
• Space for caregiver respite, enabling those tasked with the responsibility of taking care of their loved ones to be able to do it at home for longer periods of time.
• Daily exercise programs, which contribute to enhanced mobility and fall reduction.
• A professional medical staff and social workers who can provide rapid intervention, stabilizing medical conditions and reducing the number of urgent care and emergency room visits.
• Opportunities for emotional connections and support from peers, leading to decreased loneliness and isolation.
• A well-balanced noontime meal, improving overall nutrition.
• Daytime stimulation, leading to an improvement of overall quality of life, better sleep at night and less depression.
Susan Lam is clinical outreach specialist and Emily Farber is director of social services at the Avenidas Rose Kleiner Center, 270 Escuela Ave., Mountain View. The center has provided adult day services and adult day health services for more than 40 years. For more information, call 289-5481 or visit avenidas.org/programs/adult-day-program.