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During National Caregiving Month, we are excited to share this post from guest blogger, Kara Harvey. Ms. Harvey is CEO and co-founder of Elder-Well Franchise System. She has spent more than 20 years helping make the lives of seniors better. She has owned and operated private duty home care agencies and has been a franchisee of a major home care franchise system.
In 2013, she transitioned into creating a social supportive adult day program, which is now expanding as a first-to-market franchise opportunity for people looking to help seniors in a fast-growing, necessary market.
By Kara Harvey
We know that caregiving takes a toll on caregivers. It’s stressful; it’s challenging; it’s a full-time job. So what’s a caregiver to do when she’s working full-time and managing a home, her children, and older parents who need – and deserve – attention and care?
Adult day care is a growing industry that provides benefits for caregivers and participants alike. In fact, today in the United States, more than 260,000 families utilize adult day care for a loved one. According to Aging in Place, an online resource for seniors and their families, “there were 5,685 adult day care programs operating in the United States, up from 4,601 in 2010. Of older adults attending adult day services, 74% live at home.” Since 2002, there has been a 35% increase in adult day centers.
An alternative to long-term care, adult day care offers socialization, cognitive engagement for participants, and much-needed respite and peace of mind for caregivers. Participants in adult day care programs enjoy meals with their fellow participants, wellness monitoring by trained professionals, and a variety of educational and recreational programs, for example. Additionally, support for activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are provided, as are specialized Alzheimer`s and dementia support services for clients and their family caregivers.
Socialization is imperative for all of us, but social isolation can actually be life-threatening for older adults. The CDC reports that social isolation can increase an individual’s risk of death; may increase the chance of developing dementia by 50 percent; and increase heart disease and stroke risk, among other concerning and life-threatening conditions.
Adult day programs counter that isolation by fostering a sense of community, purpose, and productivity. Spending time with peers improves self-confidence, helps prevent poor nutrition and dehydration, and enhances an individual’s mood. Group activities like exercise, crafting, or playing games can also improve one’s self-confidence while engaging both body and mind.
Cognitive engagement is imperative for all of us as we age, but it is critical to older adults’ well-being. Lack of cognitive engagement can lead to an early Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, which in itself can be extremely isolating and difficult; poor hygiene; skipped meals; or forgetting to take life-saving medications. Adult day programs offer multi-sensory, cognitively-engaging programming that may involve art, music, or animals, all of which can improve cognition and awareness.
Caregiving can cause stress and other mental issues like depression or anxiety and cause caregivers to overlook their personal needs. In fact, Caregiver.org reports that “Caregivers have higher levels of stress than non-caregivers. They also describe feeling frustrated, angry, drained, guilty, or helpless due to providing care.” Adult day programs provide respite from caregiving so that they may focus on their own well-being, responsibilities, and lives.
But, caregivers’ worry and stress can be alleviated knowing that their loved ones are enjoying daily activities, meals, and fostering their own sense of community in a safe environment.
Learn more about the Elder-Well Adult® Day Program from a previous blog post, New Social Model Adult Day Program to Open in Natick – Elder-Well® – providing a safe space for older adults. »