How Can I Get Dad to Go to Adult Day Care?

– Kim

For everyone’s sanity

The first time I heard the term “Adult Day Care”, I have to be honest, it made me cringe. So after almost two years of my dad living with us, I knew for everyone’s sanity we needed to find something for my father to do other than just sitting around the house. He had no friends or family other than us, so his world was pretty limited. Not to mention, my arsenal of ideas to keep him busy was all but depleted. 

life can be hectic

As with most families, our life was hectic more times than not. The kids were involved in activities, my husband worked full time, and I worked part-time. Needless to say, being drained came with the territory so I always felt bad when I was tired and just did not have the energy to be the recreation therapist that Dad needed to keep him engaged. 

My husband, who had a Masters in recreation therapy, convinced me that the best thing for Dad, and the family, was to find something else to occupy his time. A place to go that would offer him new activities, new people to meet, and maybe when he came home he would be tired enough to sleep at night and not during the day.

I am not sending dad to day care

As soon as someone mentioned “Adult Day Care” my first thought was, “I’m not sending my father to daycare.” I sent my children to daycare. The visual that popped into my head was one of colorful nap mats, little low tables, and nursery rhymes. Of course, these senior centers are nothing like my children’s daycare. Once I did some research, I found that according to the CDC, in 2016 there were over 286,000 people participating in Adult Day Services. Going to a program would give Dad the chance for some much-needed interaction with others, certain therapies, hot meals, and activities.

Even a little respite helps

It dawned on me that maybe this break would be good for all of us, and give us the respite we needed to keep going. So I filled out the paperwork, arranged for transportation, stopped by the center for a visit with Dad in tow. All the pieces were in place, so I figured we were good to go. After all, I did the hard part and all he had to do was go for the ride. 

Once again, I was so wrong.  I could not pry him out the door with a crowbar. He did not want to be around strangers, had no interest in new activities and just was not going.    

Finding ways to get Dad to attend Adult Day Care
Welcome to the Officers Club

no uniform needed

I am so glad that I’m able to think outside the box. As I mentioned in “This Bus Station Stinks”, my father was an officer in the military. Being in the military was a huge part of his life and some of his proudest accomplishments occurred while still serving. I asked Dad if he would like to go to the “Officers Club.” He immediately perked up and became animated. I told him there would be lots of new people there, including some single women, and assured him he didn’t need to wear a uniform to this club.

His short-term memory was suffering but at this point, he still possessed his long-term memory.  I am sure he was remembering all the good times he had at “Officers Clubs” both at home and around the world. In truth, some of my happiest memories with my mom and dad were when they took me to the  Officers Club in Okinawa when I was a child.

Adult Day Care can be a life line for Caregivers
Dad with his driver Arthur, happily going off to the “Officers Club”

one kind person can make all the difference

Five days a week he was driven to the “Officers Club” using transportation provided by the county. On the first day, I alerted the driver to the situation and he fell right into the role of being my Dad’s military driver.  He called him “Major” for their entire time together, which decidedly helped to put my father at ease about both getting in the van and attending a center by himself. We were so very fortunate to have had the same driver for two years. I am still deeply touched by this man’s patience and kindness towards my father. 

When they could, the center paired Dad with other vets, which gave him someone to relate to and bond with. He attended this wonderful center until his needs became too great for them to handle. 

WHAT To consider when looking for a program

  • Proximity to where you live or work – If something happens (weather closers, medical problems, etc.), how long will it take you to get there?
  • What activities are offered? – Ask to see a schedule. What activities are going on while you are there?  
  • Staffing – What is their staffing ratio? Do they use volunteers? Are background checks done on everyone who works with participants? Look around – what are the staff doing? Listen to how staff is talking to folks they are working with? Are staff interacting or just chatting amongst themselves?
  • Cleanliness – How does the place look and smell?
  • Safety – Do they have a way to monitor anyone who might wander away? Are there tripping hazards?  
  • Medical – Are they able to administer medication?
  • Comfort – Are there comfortable places to sit? Are there areas to read or get away from the group activities?
  • Meals – Are they able to accommodate special meals? Is there access to drinks and or snacks throughout the day? Do they serve hot meals? Where do they get their meals?
  • Communication – Does the center communicate daily, weekly, ever with family members? Do they keep daily notes about participation?
  • Misc – At what point are they no longer able to keep someone? What is the cost? Are there resources to help defray the cost?

Look up the center, try to talk to someone who attends (or has a family member attending), and ask how satisfied they are with the care.

Here is a good resource for starting your search if you are considering some sort of day placement.           The Elder Care Locator is a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources. This site will point you to where you can find help if you need to find services for meals, home care and, transportation. The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency of the U.S. Administration for Community Living.♠

What about you?

  • Have you had an experience with “Adult Day Care”?
  • Does your loved one need something to do during the day?

Leave us a comment, or post in our Facebook group – we’d love to hear from you!

Dad sitting next to Dorothy Lamour.
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2 thoughts on “How Can I Get Dad to Go to Adult Day Care?”

  1. My mom also went to adult daycare . She had Alzheimer’s. This was a perfect situation for all of us especially since my husband and I worked and she could not be left alone . The place was wonderful and the people that work there also were wonderful . It was such a blessing to know that she was in a safe environment . This is a perfect situation for elderly people if they are lonely or bored.

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