Helping Your Loved One Make the Transition to an Adult Day Program

Making the transition to an adult day program can be tricky for the caregiver and loved one. Everyone involved likely will be hesitant and a little nervous trying something new in an unfamiliar setting.

Many times a loved one might say, “I don’t need this. I don’t have any disabilities. I don’t need support.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had somebody who’s 95 come in and say, “I don’t need this.” I just say, “You’re 95. You’re allowed to use the support systems you have around you.”

There will be some hesitancy when a loved one joins an adult day program. This type of change can and will be hard. Caregivers must plan for and accept this. But first and foremost, be patient with your loved one as this change is very difficult for him/her.

Adult day programs vary, but, in general, should include:

  • Daily activities, including exercise, games, computer time and field trips;
  • Meals and snacks; and
  • Events, including dances.

To make the transition easier I recommend looking at the program’s activities and meal schedule with a loved one. Then decide on a specific day to attend based on what you’re loved one enjoys. This might be an activity or a certain type of meal.

I’ve found that if the first impression is good, most times the participant will want to come back.

It usually takes five visits for someone to feel comfortable at a day center. Many times family members will go to the center with the loved one to ease the transition.

There will be times that even the best planning and most enjoyable activities just aren’t enough to get a loved one interested in the program. In these cases, get help from family members, the loved one’s doctor or another trusted person who may be able to help.

Tia Sauceda_PortraitTia Sauceda is an expert in the care of people with dementia and the executive director of the InnovAge Johnson Adult Day Program



This InnovAge blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.

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