Adult day service centers are regulated, non-residential facilities that provide a variety of health, social and related support services in a protective setting during part of the day to four or more aged, infirm or disabled adults who reside elsewhere. Adult Day Services provide the best of both worlds for dependent adults and their families. Both the dependent adult and the family members get time away to do "their own thing," whether keep up with friends, work, volunteer, get exercise, etc. Respite allows the family member to maintain a life and energy apart from the dependent adult.
The dependent adult also needs a life and time away to experience independence, social activities, appropriate exercise, active games, cognitive and emotional stimulation that depends on the presence of novel people and things. Research shows that day services away from home can keep the adult more independent for a longer period of time, even in the presence of a progressive illness. Limiting contact with others and limiting experiences only serves to exacerbate the symptoms of the decline.
Family members often resist characterizing themselves as "caregivers" because it sounds too cold, as though their family member were no longer the person they knew or in the role of father, husband, mother, wife. It feels like a loss and it is a loss, but a partial one that helps the family realistically plan, conserves energy, and actively resists the disease progression.
Finding Out More and Choosing an Adult Day Services Center
There are several resources to help you make a choice about Adult Day Services. The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) rates these programs across the state. When rating adult day services, the Department of Social Services rates staffing qualifications, patterns & ratios, facility management, and the program itself. Centers are also rated on emergency preparedness. The VDSS website now posts a searchable database at http://www.dss.virginia.gov/facility/search/adc.cgi for finding adult day care centers by name, locality, zip code and centers that accept non-ambulatory participants. Once a facility is located, one can click on the name to see basic information about the center, then click on an inspection date to view the findings of that inspection.
The National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) has created "Choosing a Center." To access this document, click on the title above and you will be taken to the NADSA website. Select the "Consumers" tab, then "Choosing a Center". This will help you in your search for quality, community Adult Day Services.