Tracy Carroll is the Caregiver Homes Branch Manager for the Springfield area in Massachusetts.

There is a program available during the day for adults who live in the community who need supervision and assistance because they have dementia, physical disabilities, cognitive impairment, mental illness and/or developmental disabilities. The type of program is called Adult Day Health and more than likely, there is one close to you. 

Adult Day Health (ADH) programs are open 5-6 days per week and have a variety of program offerings. The goal of the program is to provide a safe, secure environment for people to have fun, while maintaining as much independence as they are able. 

Why ADH is Great for People Receiving Care at Home 

For the person attending (participant), it is all about doing activities and having fun. They may not even be aware that the staff includes nurses, who help to insure continued good health, help with medications and make medical referrals as necessary. They may not know that there is a care plan designed for them to insure that they are cared for in all ways needed, including with personal hygiene, socialization and nutrition. What they do know is that they are treated with respect, and they are encouraged to use their minds and their bodies while doing things that are enjoyable. Activities include educational groups, art activities and trips in the community to name a few. 

In addition to offering lunch and two snacks and bathing and toileting assistance (if needed), ADH staff help the participants in more subtle ways, such as sitting with them at lunch and facilitating conversation, which helps with socialization. Or, during an educational activity, the staff will present information in a variety of ways, so that participants at all levels will learn and enjoy. Or when there is a cooking group, everyone is able to complete a task that is needed to make the recipe. ADH works with participants whatever their level of ability, working to ensure that participants are able to contribute as they are able. 

Why ADH is Great for Caregivers, too

There are many benefits for the caregiver of the participant as well. First of all, there is the knowledge that the participant is in a safe environment, so the caregiver can use that time to take a break from caregiving, maybe to work or to enjoy some time with friends. In addition, staff at the ADH monitor the participant for any changes and will report to the caregiver if something arises, so the caregiver does not have the sole responsibility for the participant’s well being, which can be a huge relief. 

In Massachusetts ADH is paid for by Masshealth, or private pay, or some long term care insurance policies cover this program. To find a program near you, the best way is to do an internet search for “Adult Day Health” with your town name. While not all Adult Day Health’s participate, there is also a professional organization which lists ADH’s in their membership, and you can search their website by visiting www.madsa.net

Bottom line: Adult Day Health programs are one super tool to help keep people health and happy in the community.