What is an Adult Day Service? Why is it Important?

January 28, 2020

These were the big questions asked during a recent episode of Caregiver Crossing, the Podcast (listen here!). Sarah Shadday, Joy’s House Outreach Coordinator and podcast co-host, sat down with Leah Jones, Family Care Manager at Joy’s House UIndy, to explore how Adult Day Centers and the services that places like Joy’s House provides affect families and our community at large.

Talking about how impactful Adult Day services are on families begs the question: why in the world isn’t there an Adult Day Center on every block? Why isn’t there a waitlist at every location? From our perspective, we see first hand how absolutely life-changing this service can be for our Guests and caregivers, and we know that with shifting demographics, the need will only grow in the future – the very NEAR future.

There is work to be done in how we care for our aging population and those living with life-altering diagnoses, particularly in Indiana, which was recently ranked 51st in the nation for its care systems for aging adults. (FIFTY-FIRST. Unacceptable.) Adult Days are an option that bring time and health and energy back to the caregiver, who is without a doubt overwhelmed on this journey. Our services help to keep families together longer, and to rekindle relationships. But for this to happen, people need to know Adult Day Centers exist, the services they provide, and that the option is there.

After the podcast recording ended, the conversation continued. Leah, who is heavily involved in advocating for Adult Day services at the state level, and served as President of the Indiana Association of Adult Day Services in 2019, talked about how we are trying to move away from that embarrassing 51st-in-the-nation ranking.

“There is work being done to make sure that case workers within hospitals are trained and are more knowledgeable about long-term care and options.”  When discharged, patients and their families are given a list of options for services like, for example, physical therapy. But, Leah says, “ There are hopes and plans in place for the cultural shift to also be inclusive of options like meal delivery services, transportation services, adult day centers…let’s make that as fluid as the decision to move immediately to a nursing home.”

“We also have some beautiful things being done for Hoosiers living with dementia,” Leah continues. “I go to meetings and see organizations like Dementia Friends doing such innovative things. Dementia Friends training is becoming part of the training and continuing education for our emergency medical services professionals.”

We as a community, as a state, as a society, also need to strengthen our focus on caring for the caregiver. “The day you turn 18, you become an adult. The day you exchange your vows, you become a spouse. The day they put that baby in your arms, no matter how that baby came into this world, you become a parent. But, with the exception of emergent medical situations, very few people can name the exact day they became a caregiver. It’s typically a build up, over time, of checking in on your loved one, slowly taking over responsibilities.”

As that weight becomes heavier and heavier, places like Joy’s House exist to lighten that load. And our hope is that those options for caregivers and families can grow and become more accessible in our community and state.