In Asian communities, adult daycare has been traditionally underutilized in spite of the fact that it has the ability to provide social, psychological and health benefits to seniors and their families. It is an essential valuable service that provides an environment where seniors can be safe and meaningfully engaged during the day, ensuring elders receive the care and social interaction they need while families can feel they are still fulfilling familial caregiving responsibilities.
Many traditional cultures including Asian cultures are known for their strong family bonds and the importance placed on respecting and caring for elders. For some, seeking help outside the home can be misinterpreted as shirking their duties. Many of those caring for older parents today are millennials who themselves grew up in the U.S. With the cultural and generational shift in family power dynamics, we see a greater acceptance of seeking outside support throughout the now second and third generations.
Because of work commitments, and their own children’s logistical needs and responsibilities, family caregivers who try to do it all are often spread too thin, and as a result can experience significant stress and burnout . Adult daycare centers offer respite for these caregiving family members, allowing them to fulfill their roles more effectively while meeting their own needs and maintaining their own physical and mental health.
Well run, culturally sensitive, adult daycare programs provide seniors with the opportunity to find and interact with their peers, engage in meaningful activities, and combat feelings of isolation. Social engagement can be as effective as some drugs when managing or controlling high blood pressure according to recent studies. Social activity releases pleasure hormones that increase quality of life and emotional well-being. Simple activities like reading to others and being read to stimulates conversation giving seniors something to talk about with their peers, children and grandchildren, keeping the brain active.
Adult daycare can be the motivation to get up every day, get out of the house, see friends, do fun group physical activities, and eat hot on-site home-cooked meals together with others rather than alone. A professional staff balances planned activities to keep brains active. It’s more than just Bingo, board games and puzzles, although these are of course enjoyed. At South-East Asia Center, for instance there are ESL classes geared for seniors. When seniors bring home a new word, or a piece of news or other information that their kids don’t know, it brightens their day, making them feel relevant with something to share.
South-East Asia Center provides a nurse onsite which is something that homecare generally cannot offer. Seniors with diabetes, high or low blood pressure issues, balance concerns, medication- reminder needs, or other health oversight needs will benefit from the assurance of a professional watchful eye from adult day care medical staff on a daily basis. The presence of healthcare professionals ensures that any emergency can be promptly addressed or even emerging health issues may be identified before regular doctor visits. In these ways, a good adult daycare center can be a much better alternative to being home alone or with minimal supervision or with untrained housekeepers or family members, as well meaning as they may be. South-East Asia Center conducts health workshops with their onsite nurse which stimulates thinking and self-awareness, while improving health.
Balanced meals served hot on a plate, not from a Styrofoam or cardboard box or rewarmed from a distant central kitchen, but cooked by professional cooks onsite according to strict federal nutritional standards, and eaten with friends becomes a healthy highlight to every day.
Some adult daycares have associated social services including social workers or case workers that assist with benefit programs. The best adult day cares will offer a full range of social services for all family members of any age.
Some seniors initially fear going to a new place that is not home. However, overcoming this hurdle is worth it. Door-to-door transportation in small sized vehicles with friends removes that barrier. A visit(s) to share lunch may be a good ice breaker. A visit at home from a social worker, nurse, or another senior in the program who speaks the same native language may help. Explore one or more adult day cares in your area and see what they have to offer. Those who have in-homecare service or are considering it, often misconstrue that as a golden opportunity to have a servant for the first time in their lives. The dangers of quickly becoming a homebound inactive couch potato are real. Adult daycare is an opportunity to get out and stay active.
An important caveat: Don’t use adult day care as a divorce from your parent(s). They still need your love and attention. They may need some chores done at home. You still need to be aware of their health needs, but you will have a nurse and other staff who can give you some insight from everyday interaction and professional observation.
Call our executive director San O, Master of Social Work at South-East Asia Center for free professional advice or to arrange a visit. Consider speaking with the social worker or nurse at any local adult daycare of your choosing to explore your options.