Most of us have an aging relative or know an elderly person living at home who requires assistance each day.
Caring for the elderly can be extremely tiring and stressful for a caregiver.
Across the country, there is growing interest in daytime care facilities or adult daycares, which may offer a solution for meeting both the needs of the growing elderly population as well as their caregivers.
Hank Vasoll serenades his friends three times a week at a daytime care facility called The Ivey located in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Vasoll is one of the 35 million people in the U.S. who is 65 or older, and that number is likely to double by the year 2030 as Baby Boomers age.
Some of these people come to this daycare every day. Others come only a couple of times a week. The best part is that they all go home at night to be with their loved ones, and sleep in their own beds.
Donna Rich's husband drops her off twice a week. He gets a little free time; she gets to socialize with friends.
"I will recognize a friend and will wave, within five minutes, all the hands, 30 hands, go up waving back at me, and I feel terrific," Rich says.
Adult daycares also ease the burden of children with an aging parent.
"If Mom is at home, you're caring for her at home, that might sound like a really good idea because you're the family member and you feel that's the best place for her to be, but you can't possibly do it all. You don't have the skills," says Robyn Albaum, whose mother comes to The Ivey each week.
Lynn Ivey's vision for creating this daytime care facility was the result of experiencing first-hand her mother's battle with Alzheimer's, as well as the physical and emotion toil it had on her father.
"Taking a break from the full-time job of care giving is one of the most important things a caregiver can do," Ivey says. "It's like Leeza Gibbons says, ‘Take the oxygen first.' If they [the caregiver] don't rest up, then their health is going to decline." (Click to read more about Leeza Gibbons' book, "Take Your Oxygen First.")
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caring for an aging relative can also put your own health at risk, especially women.
"They are much more likely to have depression, anxiety, and in many cases, cardiac heart disease really takes over and can almost be a 200 percent greater chance if they are care giving more than nine to 10 hours per week without a break," Ivey says.
Critics say adult daycare is like a babysitting service for adults. So in choosing an adult daycare center, make sure the elderly can socialize, get well-balanced meals, and engage in physical activity.
"Please try it. It's a wonderful solution for both the family caregiver and the adult loved one needing the care," Ivey says.
Adult daycare may be just the thing to keep an elderly person in their home, and prevent them from unnecessarily having to go to an institutional or skilled-care setting.
Persuading an aging loved one to go to an adult daycare center may be a challenge.
Ask about a trial visit so you and your loved one can check it out to see how well you like it.
If you are struggling trying to persuade a loved one to visit an adult daycare center, Ivey says you should identify the place as a "club" with great food and lots of people with whom they can interact.
You should also assure your loved one that you love them, and you want them to stay home and that this place allows them to have fun during the day.
You can find an adult daycare in your area by checking with your local Area Agencies On Aging (http://www.n4a.org/) or your local Department of Social Services. They'll have a list of all certified adult daycare centers.
If adult daycare isn't affordable for you, another option may be home health care, or a combination of the two.
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