By Rola O’Meally
If the pandemic lockdown taught us anything, it’s that isolation can be devastating. For many seniors, that’s true in the best of times.
Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to experience such things as:
• Living alone
• Loss of family or friends
• Chronic illness
• Difficulty with mobility
• Hearing loss or other impairments.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, that puts them at risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions.
One way to reduce isolation is to enroll your loved one in an adult day program.
These are specially designed programs for older adults who need assistance, companionship or supervision during the day. They are ideal for those who are alone during the day or otherwise lack regular, meaningful social interaction. Programs offering a medical model also offer attention to advanced medical needs by skilled nursing staff.
Adult day programs allow older adults to engage in social activities, make new friends, and stay connected to the community.
Participants of St. Ann’s program at Durand Senior Apartments, for example, recently took a bus trip to the Rochester Public Market, where with the help of our staff they browsed the fresh produce and other merchandise on a fun-filled weekday afternoon. They also enjoy activities like musical entertainment, exercise, crafts, games, gardening and more.
If your loved one has medical needs, don’t let that discourage you from seeking out an adult day program.
Whether it’s physical therapy, glucose monitoring, oxygen treatment, tube feeding or other needs requiring specialized care, you can rest assured it’s provided in a medical-model adult day program. In fact, regular health monitoring by our staff has reduced trips to the hospital for our participants. We will also coordinate trips to your loved one’s primary care provider if monitoring indicates that’s a good idea.
Adult day programs are ideal for those who lack regular, meaningful social interaction.
A word about the people who staff adult day programs: they have caring hearts and are especially attuned to the needs of fragile older adults. They are always on hand to make sure those in their care get everything they need. That may be a reminder to take medication, assistance with eating or personal hygiene or just a friendly smile to help them through a bad day.
At St. Ann’s, we’ve seen elders who refuse to eat or speak when they first arrive; after a while, through the caring attention of staff, they become lively, engaged, and enjoy coming to the program each day.
In addition to being good for elders, adult day programs provide a much-needed respite for the home caregiver. By enrolling your loved one in an adult day program, you can tend to work and other activities while knowing they are in a safe, caring environment. In many cases, such as at St. Ann’s, transportation is provided; costs may be covered by participants’ health insurance.
Contact an adult day program in your area and arrange a visit. It may be just the opportunity your loved one needs to stay healthy and socially engaged.
Rola O’Meally is a registered nurse and director of adult day services at St. Ann’s Community. She can be reached at 585-450-8086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.