February 2001
Senior Source: Keeping Mom (or Dad) Secure and Engaged All Day Long

Elderly Woman with Umbrella You love having your mother live with your family—but as she gets frailer and more forgetful, and as your family gets busier,you’re starting to worry about her being home alone during the day. You think she could benefit from a structured routine with stimulating activities, nourishing meals, and plenty of engaging companionship—but your mom (or perhaps it’s your dad) really doesn’t need the full-time skilled care of a nursing home. What’s the solution?

You might consider an adult day care center. “Adult day centers meet a multitude of needs,” explains Ellen Shultz, BSN, RNC (Registered Nurse Certified), director of Bridgeport Hospital’s REACH Day Center for Adults. “They allow older men and women to maintain their independence in the community while providing them with support and supervision. A good adult day care center will work very closely with all of your parent’s caregivers to ensure ongoing, quality care.”

How do you evaluate an adult day center? Here is a checklist of information to ask for to be sure your loved one will receive loving, professional care that can actually be helpful—not just a babysitting service.

  • A flyer or brochure. This should help you to learn the philosophy of the program and get a description of the facility.
  • Find out if the Center is certified by the Connecticut Association of Adult Day Centers.
  • Staff credentials. Look for nurses, social workers, activity therapists, and certified nurse’s aides with special training and experience in working with the elderly, and for a geriatrician—a physician specializing in the medical care of the elderly—on staff.
  • Ratio of participants to staff. (A ratio of 1 to 7 is good.)
  • Assessment by skilled staff including a geriatrician.
  • Eligibility criteria for participants. (Will the program accept Alzheimer’s patients, for instance?)
  • A monthly activities calendar.
  • Sample menus. (Meals should be prepared in consultation with a dietitian.)
  • Information about transportation.
  • Information about costs and discounts.
  • Application procedures.

Using this information, you can evaluate area centers to choose the ones you’re most comfortable with. Before making your final choice, visit the centers you’re interested in to watch their programs in operation.

Bridgeport Hospital’s REACH Day Center for Adults is an adult day program with a geriatrician on staff. The program provides a warm and caring environment, structured activities, and healthy meals, in an atmosphere designed to enhance participants’ well-being and help them feel good about themselves again. “Our goals are to help functionally limited older adults, including those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, to retain or regain their ability to manage as independently as possible,” says geriatrician Beata Skudlarska, MD.

“A skilled assessment by a geriatrician is important,” adds Dr. Skudlarska, “because in the elderly, symptoms may be caused by not just one, but a variety of interlinked problems. Frequent falls, for example, may be caused by a constellation of problems including arthritis, poor eyesight, nervousness and anxiety, a cluttered environment, and urinary incontinence requiring hasty trips to the bathroom. All of these must be addressed to resolve the situation.”

An adult day center program can help you meet the needs of your whole family and keep your older loved ones at home with you as long as possible.

For information on Bridgeport Hospital’s REACH Day Center for Adults, or to arrange a visit, call the Center at 203-373-0698.