Looking at a well-kept secret By Barb Zeis
arshall starts his day chatting with friends over a cup of coffee before he makes his way to exercise and then choir practice. After lunch he heads to the art room for pottery class, followed by a creative writing group. He makes plans with friends for the next day before heading home.
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MINNESOTA HEALTH CARE NEWS MARCH 2016
Marshall is an 82-year-old veteran with early-stage memory loss. He attends an adult day program a few miles away from the home he’s lived in for more than 50 years. Adult day programs such as Marshall’s remain a well-kept secret in the world of senior services. As deﬁned by the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA), adult day programs are “professional care settings in which older adults, adults living with dementia, or adults living with disabilities receive individualized therapeutic, social, and health services for some part of the day.” Adult day participants maintain their independence and dignity, while caregivers enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing their family member is receiving care and staying active. The adult day model Adult day services began to appear in the U.S. in the 1960s as a form of geriatric outpatient hospital care. In subsequent decades the adult day model has expanded to support the physical, mental, and social well-being of older adults and adults with disabilities and/or memory loss. According to NADSA, there are now more than 5,000 adult day centers in the U.S. serving more than 260,000 participants and caregivers. What sets adult day services apart from other services available to seniors is the ﬂexibility they offer families. Seniors and adults can have their health and wellness monitored by trained professionals at day programs while they continue to live independently or with caregivers. This arrangement is often preferable to relocating to a senior living community, especially for older adults who do not require 24-hour assistance or monitoring. Caregivers—often family members—beneﬁt from adult day programs, too. Because adult day services are typically offered during regular business hours, caregivers have opportunities to work, run errands, or just take a break from their caregiving duties while their loved one spends time enjoying the program.