There are over 4,600 adult day centers across the United States, but some people with intellectual and physical disabilities aren’t taking advantage of this valuable resource. For many people, day programs for adults with disabilities are far preferable than other long-term care options, such as nursing homes. In this blog, we’ll review the positives of day programming, from allowing those with disabilities to remain in their communities to teaching them valuable life skills.
They Boost Participants’ Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
One of the main adult day program benefits is the positive impact they have on their wellbeing. Many individuals want to continue spending time in their community, but having a disability can impede this. However, with the support and resources provided by adult day centers, community involvement is possible.
Day programs for people with disabilities also allow them to build friendships and enjoy social activities. This enhances their self-esteem, independence, confidence, and social skills. These relationships can be particularly beneficial for people who live in their own home and are suffering from feelings of isolation or depression. Those who have experienced the death of a loved one or just recovered from an illness or injury can also benefit from the social interactions provided by adult day programs.
Programs for people with disabilities also support the social model of disability, which emphasizes wellbeing and societal participation. This contrasts with the medical model, which often defines people in terms of their disability or limitations.
They’re Often More Affordable Than Other Care Options
In most cases, adult day programs cost far less than nursing homes, senior living communities, or in-home care. In fact, day programming can also help people with disabilities live in their own homes for as long as possible, delaying nursing home placement.
There are several different ways to pay for day programming. These include:
- Medicaid waivers
- Funding through the Administrations of Aging and Veterans’ Administrations
- Long-term care insurance
- Combination of Medicare and Medicaid (for dually-eligible individuals)
- Other subsidy programs for low-income people
- Out of pocket on an hourly basis
They Help Participants Develop Real World Life Skills
It can be difficult for people with intellectual and physical disabilities to cultivate life skills, especially if they aren’t able to socialize with their peers. Whether they’re moving into a new apartment after graduation or seeking gainful employment, day programming can make the process easier.
Participating in adult day programs helps participants discover their individual gifts and talents. It also makes them more confident in their ability to live independently and handle any challenges they might face. Some specialized programming also teaches daily living skills for adults with autism, which is very important as they face the real world.
Day programs for people with disabilities cover a variety of real world life skills, including:
- Budgeting and financial management
- Independent living skills
- Social interaction skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Employment skills training
- Computer skills training
- Independent travel instruction
They Provide Much-Needed Relief for Caregivers
An often overlooked benefit of adult day programming is the respite it provides for family caregivers. 80% of care for seniors and people with disabilities is provided by family members, many of whom don’t tend to their own needs. When their loved one participates in day programming, the caregiver can run errands, travel, visit friends, and treat themselves to things they love.
Some adult day centers even provide caregiver support programs. These include educational programming, support groups, and one-on-one counseling with a professional therapist.
There’s Something for Everyone
Everyone has different passions and interests, and adult day programming reflects this diversity. While program options vary, you’ll find a list of some of the most common offerings below:
- Arts (e.g. music, painting, drama, or photography)
- Current events
- Health and wellness
- Health services
- Independent living skills
- Personal safety awareness
- Rehabilitation therapy
Some of these programs (such as the arts) are proven to improve emotional regulation, coping skills, and sensory processing. They can also calm anxiety and frustration surrounding communication impairments. Additionally, day programming can help build both fine and gross motor skills.
They Can Enhance the Lives of Anyone with a Disability
Another benefit of adult day programs is that nearly everyone with a disability can participate. While some programs are specifically geared towards seniors or people with dementia, the majority are open to anyone. These include developmental disabilities, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, and many more.
Many day centers have a nurse on staff to provide medical care if the need arises. Some facilities also have social workers, therapists, and case managers. Studies show that emergency room activity, total hospitalizations, and falls all decrease for individuals who spend at least six months in adult day programming.