Adult day centers vary widely in the services they offer and the types of clients they accept. Because of that, it is important to determine ahead of time what is important to you for your family member. Are you concerned that they need socialization? Or is your primary consideration medical oversight while you work during the day? Determining your goals will help you better evaluate the adult day centers you tour.

1. Be certain that you understand what types of clients the center can and cannot accommodate.

What specific conditions are accepted? (i.e. incontinence? walkers? wheelchairs? dementia?) If your family member is in the early states of a progressive disease, will they be able to accommodate him or her now and in the immediate future? The last thing you want is for your family member to make this transition and then have to start over with a new center in a few months because their disease progresses.

2. Understand the daily and weekly rate and what additional fees you should expect.

How are you charged? Is it an hourly, daily or weekly rate? Is there a minimum charge per day? Are there extra charges for meals and activities? What if they need medication reminders or assistance? Will there be an additional fee? If transportation services are available, what is the fee? Make sure you clearly under stand the fee structure. Also ask if there are any area programs to help with these fees.

3. Pay close attention to the staff and ask questions about their credentials and training.

As you tour, watch how the staff interact with the residents. Do they know their names and talk with them respectfully? Ask the administrator about the hiring process. Is staff given background checks? Is there on-going training and education after they are hired? What are the credentials of the supervisor? What is the staff to client ratio? Are there at least two paid staff members on-site at all times? How do they handle medical emergencies? If your state requires adult day centers to be licensed, ask for the results of their last survey.

4. What are the center's socialization and recreation programs?

A primary reason many families seek adult day is to provide their loved one with the opportunity for socialization and enrichment. As you are you are touring centers, observe the activities going on. Are residents participating? Are there individual and group activities? Ask to see the events calendar and ask questions about planned activities. Are there planned opportunities for residents to go on shopping trips to area malls or out to local restaurants? How many staff members go along to assist residents who need extra help? What is your overall impression of the center? Do residents seem engaged and content or asleep and bored?

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