By: Darlynn Morgan, Orange County Elder Lawyer

Our parents are living longer.

And as an Orange County elder lawyer, I know that with those advanced years come problems we may not have considered…

Loneliness – spouses and many of their friends are gone…

Isolation – it’s harder for them to get out and do even the simplest task…

Dependence – they have to rely on us or even strangers for help when they’ve always been  independent…

We’re all familiar with the standard (and expensive) options for dealing with the lifestyle issues of aging –

  • Home health care
  • Assisted living centers
  • Nursing homes

But a new option is becoming more popular and is well worth considering especially for seniors who are at the “in between” stage – too healthy for full time nursing care but unable to manage completely independently.

That option is the adult day care center.

Here’s what to consider when deciding if an adult day care center is the right option for you and your loved one:

What is an Adult Day Care Center?

Adult day care centers are managed facilities with planned programs and activities designed to give your loved one social interaction, nutritious meals and snacks (even those on special diets) and routine health related services.

As the name implies, adult day care centers are not equipped or designed to give around the clock care.  Normally open Monday through Friday, their purpose is to give senior adults a chance to get out, see other people and remain engaged in a community.  For you, the caregiver, they provide a chance to take a break, run errands or just rest.

Services Provided by Adult Day Care Centers

A good adult day care center will provide opportunities for your loved one to exercise, build on current skills or learn new ones, socialize and stay active. Most centers will provide:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Entertainment such as music and plays provided by local groups or staff
  • BINGO or other games to increase mental stimulation
  • Light exercise programs like stretching or even Tai Chi
  • Book clubs and discussion groups
  • Local outings

Some adult day care centers provide transportation to and from the center, counseling and support groups for the seniors and their caregivers, and routine healthcare services like blood pressure monitoring and vision/hearing screenings.

What Adult Day Care Centers Don’t Provide

Don’t expect the adult day care center to provide more extensive health care services unless it is an Adult Day Health Care Center.  These facilities will usually include the term “health care” in their name.  Adult Day Health Care Centers usually provide physical therapy, speech therapy, more extensive monitoring of medical conditions and will have registered nurses and/or physicians on staff.  If your loved one requires this heightened level of care, make sure you ask if it’s provided before signing up.

When to Choose Adult Day Care

Opting for any kind of assistance for your loved one can be a tough decision for everyone.  Knowing your options before you need them is always the best course of action.  Think about your loved one’s situation objectively.  If they meet any of the following criteria, adult day care may be the option for you:

  • They can no longer handle their daily activities
  • They are socially isolated and miss the companionship of a social group
  • They can’t be left alone safely
  • They live alone or they live with someone who is gone frequently

Costs of Adult Day Care Centers

As with most other care options for the elderly, the costs for adult day care centers vary according to where you live and the services they provide.  The average is $64 a day.  If you opt for an adult day health care center, the cost will increase.  The good news is that many adult day care centers base their fees on a sliding scale and what you pay will be based upon your income and ability to pay.

Medicare does not cover fees for adult day care centers; however, Medicaid will pay most of the costs of a licensed adult day care center if your loved one qualifies due to low income and few assets.  Always ask the adult day care center you’re considering about available financial assistance programs.

Take a look at your loved one’s medical insurance policy – some private companies cover a portion of the daily fee if licensed medical professionals are involved in the care provided by the center.  Some long term care insurance policies may also pay for adult day care centers as well.

And, one more thing to consider, as a caregiver you may be entitled to dependent-care tax credits.

There are many options available to you in paying for adult day care for your loved one.  The best way to get started in the selection process is to know those options.  Properly structuring your loved one’s estate and asset ownership can make a huge difference in the amount of assistance they qualify for.

Talk to us.

Call us, your neighborhood Orange County elder lawyers, to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session today.  Our Family Wealth Planning Session is normally $750, but this month I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session with me at no charge.  Call (949) 260-1400 today and mention this article.