Sunday, December 7, 2003

Alive and well

Adult care can provide respite

Debra Kendrick

Since my column last month regarding caregivers, I have been inundated with (often heart-wrenching) stories of family members who are so consumed by providing round-the-clock care and supervision for aging or disabled loved ones that they find no time for themselves. A mother of an 18-year-old medically fragile child laments that there will be no possibility of leaving the house for the holidays, since no one else can provide care for her son.

A woman with significant disabilities whose partner is gone much of the day asks if there is anyone who might keep her company once in a while. And countless adult children wonder if it is disloyal to their aging parents to want a break.

While hearing those questions and cries for help, I also heard from people who have some answers.

At a dozen or so facilities throughout Greater Cincinnati, programs are operated five days a week that give caregivers the time they need to go to work, run errands, or just have lunch with a friend. Many people shy away from the label "adult day care," perhaps believing at first that such facilities might be demeaning to their loved ones. The reality, however, as Linda Kurzynski, program manager for Almost Family in Blue Ash, says, is that "there is much more stimulation for the individual who comes here than there would be at home."

Kate Schuerman, marketing counselor for Eldermount, the adult day-care facility operated as part of Bayley Place in Delhi Township, agrees. "People here become attached to one another and comfortable with one another."

Cheryl Spencer, intake social worker for Salvation Army's Center Hill adult day care in Finneytown, says simply, "For many of the people who come here, this is like a second family."

Most programs serve 40 to 50 people, ranging in age from 33 to 100. Some people come every day, while others are on a once- or twice-a week schedule. At Almost Family, in fact, Kurzynski says there are some families who bring a loved one just a few times a year.

The abilities and needs of adults spending time in day-care centers are also widely varied. While some only need companionship and activity, others need help with getting in and out of the bathroom, eating, or taking medicines.

Some centers provide transportation for members to and from their homes, and some have onsite nurses. Meals are provided, medications dispensed, and activities offered to stimulate mind and body.

Charges for adult day care programs range from $35 to $55 a day, but most people have a variety of subsidizing options available. The Council on Aging, Veterans Administration, Medicaid, Alzheimer's Association, and many other organizations offer financial assistance to many day-care participants.

To get started generally requires an intake visit and sometimes medical diagnosis. At the Salvation Army, Spencer says "we like to have people come for a couple of days just to check it out, see how they like it." In most cases, they keep coming.

A few Tristate centers that offer adult day care:

• Almost Family, Blue Ash, (513) 984-8000

• Almost Family, Fort Thomas, (859) 578-0022.

• Eldermount, Bayley Place, Delhi Township, (513) 376-5540.

• Salvation Army, Center Hill, (513) 482-7262.

• Salvation Army, Wilson Center, downtown, (513) 762-5693.

• Salvation Army, Newport, (859) 291-8107.

• Twin Towers, College Hill, (513) 853-4161.

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