Many elderly people receive care from their family members or friends, and sometimes these caregivers need a break from their efforts. Respite care and adult day care can alleviate the burden on regular caregivers. Respite care provides social opportunities and a change of scene, as well as medical monitoring, meals, assistance with activities of daily living, and sometimes assistance with medications. It is less formal than adult day care and may be provided on a volunteer basis at irregular intervals. An elderly person may receive respite care in their home, or they may receive it in a nursing facility or in another outside location.
While adult day care provides a similar (although somewhat broader) range of services, these programs are more structured. They also may have relationships with other organizations to which they can provide referrals for an elderly person’s specific needs. Often, they are located in the same facility as a respite care program. Some adult day care programs are affiliated with a health care provider, which means that they may be able to offer basic medical services. You should not expect to receive sophisticated treatment through these programs, though. Some programs operate on fixed schedules, while others allow for unscheduled admissions. Adult day care programs tend to cost more than respite care services, but often government benefits can help cover the costs. Long-term care insurance may help as well, depending on the policy.
Choosing a Respite Care or Adult Day Care Program
You should ask family members or friends for referrals to programs or advice on various programs that they have considered in the past. You also will want to think about how each program will fit into your schedule, the level of structure that you would prefer, and the types of activities that would meet the elderly person’s needs. Some organizations that provide general information about these programs include the National Adult Day Services Association, ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center, and the Area Agency on Aging near you.
When you are comparing several different programs, you will want to find out about the experience and training of the people who will be providing the care. You also will want to clarify your expectations for the needs that the program will meet, as well as the amount that you are willing to pay. If you are hiring someone to assist your loved one in their home, you should interview them and ask them about how they would respond in certain types of situations that often arise. You may want to ask about their insurance and conduct a background check. If they will be providing care on a consistent schedule, you can ask them about contingency plans if they need to miss an appointment.
If you are looking for care outside the elderly person’s home, you should ask about the staff ratio of the facility and policies for supervising the staff. You can ask the administrators for references or reports from families who have used the program. If the program will be providing medical services, you may want to find out whether the staff will develop a specific plan for your loved one and how they will keep track of their medical needs. These are just some examples of issues to bear in mind, and you can feel free to ask any other questions that may address your personal concerns.