As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
Last week I spent three days straight with some of the nicest people in the world, people who work in adult day care and adult day health care centers. The First International Adult Day Services Association Conference was held in Seattle, Washington, and men and women from across the United States and Canada attended the three-day event.
While the conference actually marked the 30th anniversary of the National Adult Day Services Association, it was the first year efforts were made to reach out to colleagues in Canada. Seems Canadian day service providers are making moves to develop their own national association—good news for Canadian family caregivers.
For years, adult day services—the term used to describe both adult day care and adult day health care—have been labeled “the best-kept secret.” I have never understood why. Adult day centers are wonderful places for old, frail, and/or disabled adults to spend a day.
People who work at day centers are truly remarkable. They are well educated, usually have special degrees or certifications, and understand how to work with difficult behaviors common to, for example, dementia. Here’s the kicker: they have other choices. They could probably work in other settings and make more money, but they don’t. I think it’s because of a commonly held love of human beings. Imagine going to work every day and working with people who really care about other human beings—really care, not just pretend to care.
I worry about long-term care services like adult day care and adult day health care. Historically, long-term care has been the forgotten stepsister to health care, which is why there’s so little money in long-term care (except for nursing homes, of course). All of that will change when health care moves into the long-term care space. But, as they say, that’s another story.
More to the point: If you are involved in caring for a frail or disabled adult who is trying to stay at home, contact your local adult day services center to see how it can help—and if you are an advocate for older and/or disabled adults, please support your local adult day center. When we need it, we are all going to want an adult day center nearby. Think of it as an investment in your future.
By Sara Myers
A Good Enough Daughter Blog