Professionals Who Go the Extra Mile — Adult Day Services for the Elderly

Taking care of a person with dementia requires a degree of patience I did not know I had. For years my world revolved around writing assignments and deadlines. It’s a career that requires perseverance and self-discipline. Ten years of freelancing for national clients convinced me that I was pretty good at it. But everything changed when my mom moved in. I felt clueless and overwhelmed. The transition was hard for both of us. Once I found the incredible people at the Adult Day program in our county, managing my work and her care became much easier.

Until Mom moved in with me, I had never heard of Adult Day Care. To me, the name sounded belittling, and I was careful not to say “day care” around my mom. No matter what stage of dementia someone has reached, you’ve got to show respect for who they are.

We are lucky to live in a county with a great Adult Day Service Center which is operated by Blue Mountain Health System. I interviewed Roxanne Downs, the director of the program to get more details about how services are organized. Although the program is located in Carbon County, this Palmerton site also has contracts with Monroe and Lehigh Counties which can refer clients who need services.

Ms. Downs feels that current services for seniors in Carbon County are well managed and located in sites that are accessible for most people. The aging population in our county is growing,  just as it is in the rest of Pennsylvania. But Roxanne feels that the county — like most others — is not financially prepared for the growing wave of elderly people.

Like most Adult Day sites, her center focuses on taking good care of their elderly participants. To do this, they work closely with their families. The center has a caregiver support group that meets regularly to discuss topics of interest to family caregivers. Past sessions have covered elder care law, the nature of Parkinson’s Disease, and trends in gerontology. Staff members at the site interview the elder’s primary caregiver every six months to adjust each elder’s care plan. The program operates on a medical model which helps identify and address health issues together with families.

Apart from meticulous daily care, the center offers handicapped accessible showers for people who have limited accessibility at home. They have a nurse on staff who can do blood work on site. This reduces the family burden of making appointment for ongoing labwork. A hairdresser is there offering weekly cuts for elders. Occupational and speech therapy can also be arranged on site.

I love the people who work there because they have been so good to my mom. Whenever any issue comes up, I get a phone call immediately and we create solutions together. Every day I am thankful for the kind attention they have given my mom and I am certain that their activities have helped my mom retain some abilities despite the progression of her disease. If you need this kind of support so you can work full-time and still care for a family member, the links on the front page will guide you to similar programs around the state of Pennsylvania. My December article in the Journal Newspapers also provides more details about elder programs in the Pocono region.

If your county doesn’t have a program like this, it may be time to become an advocate for launching one. You can begin by calling your Area Agency on Aging — and follow up with a call to your state legislator. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you really need. The elders in our community deserve the kind of support they once offered to us.

4 Responses to Professionals Who Go the Extra Mile — Adult Day Services for the Elderly

  1. Important article. I’ve been inside retirement home based business for many years currently. A single great facility for the aged can be a position known as http://www.chartiercare.com

  2. It’s great that you’re able to work WITH the staff to help your mom. I’ve experienced the same thing with my mother’s assisted living center. They encounter simiilar difficulties with all patients, but it’s essential to have the support of family members who can help them tailor solutions to individuals’ needs. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Aging Together supports the roomemendaticns laid out in the Dementia State Plan, especially the collaborative aspect. We have seen this model result in significant improvements in services and community life for older adults and their caregivers when utilized in our region.Aging Together has replicated the work detailed in Goal III (Increase Awareness & Create Dementia Specific Training) and has found law enforcement and first responders to be especially responsive to education about dementia. We recommend this objective also include collaboration across the identified groups to help develop effective strategies toward supporting older adults with dementia and preventing abuse or neglect of these vulnerable Virginians. We also note that the faith community is not specifically referenced in the report, especially as a support to family caregivers and as part of the network that can effectively disseminate information to caregivers and older adults. The section addressing Dementia Specific Training should include an emphasis on training family caregivers. Hands on training using local resources for family caregivers has become a regular event in our region and is widely praised and utilized by family members. It has been an extremely affordable option when developed through collaborations among community resources. Aging Together is willing to share this model with other communities. We support the objective in Goal III regarding linking caregivers and people with dementia to information and services in rural communities. Implementation in these areas needs to take into account the differences between rural and urban Virginia. Even within rural communities there are wide discrepancies and personalities across localities. Aging Together has learned through our model that work can be done successfully on a local and a regional basis concurrently. Using this dual focus encourages buy in and engagement leading to more effective strategies and ultimately more genuine participation. Aging Together supports VDA as essential to creating more awareness of dementia in Virginia. We encourage building a broad stakeholder base, including the membership of the Commission. Goals and objectives fostering proactive, evidenced practices in care transitions across a variety of settings could be strengthened. We also recommend consideration of language and practices that reference and promote significant culture change including community based service delivery and person centered planning and service delivery. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this plan. Aging Together offers our assistance in advocacy for and implementation of the plan as you move forward.

      • I helped move my mom from a one boedrom independent apartment in a residential care facility to a studio apartment. Mom is running out of money and I quickly. No one really anticipated this. The good news is that she has remained independent longer than we thought. (Mom has Parkinsons and a long term care policy that will kick in when she needs assisted living.) The bad news is that she will probably run out of money before she needs the care. I am exhausted and living in a fog. My sister is helping her unpack and settle in this weekend. She flew in from CA leaving her husband and two young girls who start school on Monday. I don’t think she will get everything done with mom because mom will have to get rid of at least 50% more stuff to really make the small space work. I dread dealing with the left overs when she leaves. Mom has Parkinsons and needs more and more help. I thought I was in the thick of things 8 years ago when she was diagnosed and she moved from her condo. Now I realize that it is really just being for me. The last years of a move, multiple falls, emergency room visits, managing multiple medications well that is seeming easy now. I am not looking forward to the next stage. I am not looking forward to aging myself.

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