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Tips for Selecting Adult Day Health Programs

Tiffany Smith
July 15, 2011

  • Go for a visit. Tour the adult day program, hang out for a few hours with your loved one and let them get acquainted with the staff and other participants.
  • Conduct casual interviews. Talk to the staff, the cook, and the care aides. Ask them what they like about working here.
  • Learn stats. Ask what the staff to client ratio is.
  • Find the fun. Ask about additional programs: What art, health, educational and entertainment types of activities take place throughout the week.
  • Get backup. Ask what types of background checks they do for staff and volunteers.
  • Do a taste test. Eat a meal and see if you enjoy it -- and if your loved one will.
  • Look and learn. Take note of bathroom breaks, assistance with walking, and unlocked or unmonitored doors.
  • Watch distributions. Note medication times and who dispenses medicines, if they're noted, and how closely they're checked.
  • Learn the emergency plan. Ask how they handle natural disasters and how you can get in touch with them in case of an emergency-do they have cell phones or other ways to contact them quickly? Where would they go if they needed to evacuate?
  • Get a sense for capabilities. Ask how they handle medication complications and emergencies.
  • Are people happy? Notice if there are upcoming events on the board, happy photographs of the attendees, if they are talked to by name and if the staff spends time with the attendees.
  • Watch the seniors. Do the participants just sit around and watch TV all day?
  • Get a feel. Is the facility cheerful or cluttered? Clinical or homey?
  • Attempt a connection. Did your loved one find someone to talk with and relate to while you were visiting?
  • Go for air. Is there a garden or outside gathering area?

After assessing all of the options for independent living, you may still be confused about whether it is best for your loved one. In this situation it is always best to consult with an expert before making an important decision to keep your parent at home or move them elsewhere. The senior care advisors at Care.com speak with caregivers each day who are grappling with the issues of what type of care is best, how to pay for care, and how to talk to family. Our licensed social workers have decades of experience helping families can serve as a great sounding board and advisor to help you make informed decisions. If, however, you feel strongly that independent living is simply no longer safe you may want to consider the assisted living options below.

Be sure to read our article About Adult Day Health Programs.

Review the Senior Care Index for all senior care options.


Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite

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