Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!
Rayna Neises, ACC, host, and Aly Neises, RN, cohost, reflect on last week’s conversation with KC Schumacher. From her work at an adult day program, KC was able to share lots of great information regarding this care option. Choosing a day program adds trained members to the team and support for both the caregiver and the loved one. Additional insights shared on the benefits of these programs:
- Participants at a day program are with others who face similar situations allowing expectations to lower, so they do not need to know everyone and everything and can relax and enjoy themselves.
- Most day stays are very flexible (time of day/days of the week) and the staff will work with families to accommodate their schedules and needs.
- Day programs are a cheaper option than one-on-one care and can help to keep your loved one living at home longer.
- The human interaction experienced at a day program stimulates the brain and helps your loved one to stay engaged and involved allowing them to have a longer and more quality life.
- Meal assistance can be another big plus for utilizing a day stay. Many will even accommodate special dietary needs.
- Day programs can be an invaluable piece of the care team, so do not prejudge whether it is going to be a good fit. Just find one in your area and schedule a visit!
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcast where there’s hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host, and Aly Neises, your cohost. And today we’re going to continue the conversation about day stay programs and how they can help family caregivers care for their loved ones and themselves. So day stay a topic really close to my heart. It was really great to be able to talk to KC who’s hands-on in the trenches, providing that amazing services for families.
I will be honest with you. I didn’t know, day stays were really an option or such a great option for families out there. I love that KC really expanded my mind on what a day stay was and what that entailed. I had, I really, honestly, no idea, no idea.
First with my mom, we were looking at options for her. Because my dad was so young still and doing 24/7 care with her in the home. He just really wanted it to work for her. And it didn’t, she was such a home body that she was extremely anxious. And so we tried it actually probably in a bad time. Dad had gone out of town for a softball tournament. And so my sister and my aunt were helping. And so they were taking her to a place she’d never been before. And then her day routine was different. So it could have had to do with that, but it really wasn’t a good option for her because she really didn’t like the people, they made her anxious, but for my dad, it was an amazing opportunity for him to not be stuck in the house all day. He was such a social guy and so physically active still, when we were needing 24 hour help and so it was such a great option for him.
I love that they get to go to a place where there are other people in similar situations to them. I love that KC talked about what a benefit that is. You know, you also have staff that are there that are trained, that know how to deal with these people. Specifically trained to take care of people with dementia or other disabilities. That is what they do. These people do this because they love to do it. And I think knowing that when you’re dropping your loved one off there, knowing that, that has to bring some peace of mind to you as well.
My dad really looked forward to going. It was easy to get him to go. It was interesting because in the building that the day stay was located, you had to go in the store and turn left and go down a long hall. And it was down in the corner and he could lead new caregivers there. So he knew right where he was going. I found he socialized different with those people. I don’t know if there was no expectation for him to know the answers or to be completely appropriate, but he seemed to just be able to relax and enjoy their company compared to the ballplayers or other people maybe that he had known before he struggled. The other thing that he really enjoyed was just all the activities, being able to do different things. And he kind of looked at it as a job. And so it was something that they could kind of put him to work. And so that was helpful for him too, because he wanted to be productive. And so being able to help. With setting up for lunch or whatever little jobs they could give him that was meaningful to him as well.
I think it’s great that you mentioned that he seemed at ease there. Those expectations that I think we don’t even realize as caregivers. That maybe the people we’re caring for are feeling that they should know certain things or be able to do certain things. And part of that, like you mentioned is because we’ve known what they were like before. And so sometimes it’s hard for us to see how they are currently, if that makes sense, just because we don’t think of it. Last month dad could set the table without cuing it. Now he can’t. That’s not something that you would necessarily think you just kind of take it for granted. I think sometimes we have these expectations of the people we care for without even realizing that we’re putting those expectations on them. And I think sometimes they feel this pressure that they can’t necessarily express, like recognizing faces and places, and they know that they should know these things. But they can’t quite put the words together or just knowing that they should know them. I think sometimes can make people anxious. So being surrounded by people that they don’t necessarily know and doesn’t know what they were like before, didn’t even really know what they were like yesterday, I think can be kind of refreshing. And I love that he was so at ease when he went. And I do love activities and outings and all this stuff going on that they’re not sitting in front of a TV and zoning out. We’re actually stimulating these people, trying to keep them as active as possible. I think sometimes as caregivers, especially when you’re doing this day in and day out, it can be exhausting, especially when they are ambulatory and want to be active like your dad, that would be hard to try to keep him in a house entertained 24 seven. That just wasn’t his personality before he had dementia so it definitely is not going to be his personality now.
Right at home, we did things like, let him pick up the leaves in the yard and. I would save the leaves and sprinkle them back in the yard so I can do it again later, so we had to be really creative to keep been busy whereas in that environment at the day, say there were just things built in those programs were there the things that he enjoyed doing were there? It was interesting because I kind of wondered how he would interact with the little lady with her doll, because those people were there too, but it really, he was so sweet to them. It was fun to see the other gentlemen that he would sit and eat dinner with and they’d have conversation. It was really neat to see that group of people and how they interacted. It was a great fit for him. We really appreciated the flexibility of the day stay when we first started taking dad there. We only needed a couple of days a week. First of all, we weren’t sure that he would love it, but he was playing volleyball still three days a week. And so we had him there on the days that he wasn’t playing volleyball and that gave us the opportunity to, you know, Have no caregivers responsible for him at the same time as having him get good care, good food, all of those things that were important. And then as he was no longer able to play volleyball because of injuring himself. His skin got real thin. And so we just started having quite a few injuries and it just kind of didn’t make sense to continue putting him in that position. Then we needed to increase how often he was there. And the last couple of years we were at four days a week. They were flexible when we brought him in which allowed him to sleep in a little bit, which he liked to do. And so he didn’t have to get up real early and be there right when it opened. But we were able to get in there before lunch and then he would have lunch and dinner. It was just a really good solution for our family. Not only financially, more economical than paying somebody one-on-one, but just keeping him engaged and active. I love that that’s KC job is to keep those activities going and you can tell she’s passionate about it. And, that was what we found, where we had my dad as well.
Found working in healthcare, as long as I have that, you can definitely tell the ones that do this because they love to take care of people and the ones that are there for a paycheck. And just the way KC talks about this program and how much she is able to just tell you all the details calls and explain things. It’s just even the way she explains it. You can tell that passion is definitely there. It’s a mission is what it is. It’s driving her every day to help take care of these people so that these caregivers can also take care of themselves. I think that’s the greatest benefit is that, like you said, it’s a place that you don’t have to pay like a one-on-one caregiver or, you know, minimize your own income because you have to do it. It also gives you some freedom and flexibility to be able to do the things that you necessarily couldn’t do before. Like maybe go to work for a little while or go on a shopping spree or go to those appointments that you need to do where you couldn’t take your loved one. That’s a lot of extra stress that you don’t have to have. Plus you know, that they’re being fed, they’re in a safe environment. They’re clean and healthy and they’re being loved. I mean, the way KC talks about the stay, stay, those people love those people. There’s no doubt in my heart. So I think that’s amazing.
And as we met families, you know, as I would be there to pick up dad, I would meet other family members that were picking up their loved ones from the program. They were in and that’s what I found was, you know, one, couple, it was a daughter that was a nurse and she would drop her dad off at the day, stay in her husband would pick him up when he was done with work and they were tag teaming, which allowed them both to get the work done that they needed to do and to have dad living with them. as long as possible, I also had a sweet little lady that, was in the program and her husband live there in the assisted living part of the community. And he would come and get her every day and take her out to supper. And they were so cute together. It was just so sweet to see that when they were older and he wasn’t able to meet all of her needs. He was able to bring her there again, no that her needs were met and take the break, get the nap, whatever he needed to do that day to take care of himself. And so I, you know, we just family members, people just come through my mind of all the different situations that people that were able to use that service, in a way that was really helpful to their family. I’m just a huge advocate for those options. And honestly, I hope that our listeners are able to search out and find de say options around them. But the truth is in smaller communities, there aren’t a lot of these options. And even in some of the larger communities because of state regulations, there aren’t a lot of options. Even in all of Wichita, there’s one. And I feel like that’s just sad. I, if I want to become an advocate, a lobbyist, I, this is one of my things I’d be on a soapbox about, because I feel like the licensing causes it to not be financially beneficial for companies to get into this. And as we’re looking at aging populations, I feel like by not having these opportunities available, we are putting people in a place where they feel like they don’t have a choice, but to put them in assisted living or put them in skilled care. And that’s not always the best situation for every family. And if they have these options, if there were more readily available, I think we would have even more opportunities for families to stay together and people to be able to be comfortable in their own homes longer. And that transition, especially when you’re dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the transition to a different environment is just difficult. Dad was able to enjoy the daytime, but come back to his home at the time where a lot of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia struggle with sundowners that wandering, that confusion, all of that kind of thing. He was able to come back to his home at the time when those things would normally set in and it really made a big difference. For him to come back, recognize he was at home and do that night routine and get to bed. Also. I think, it was really helpful to keep him so busy during the day because he slept really well at night. He wasn’t napping. He was on board during the day. And so that gave him some opportunities to have that stimulation to really help him have a better night’s rest.
And that that caregivers will say, God, they just sleep so much better when they come here. And it is because they keep them busy and keep them doing things. I think the longer we can stimulate brains and keep them going as much as we possibly can. I think they have a longer and a more quality of a life. Human interaction really does do something to the brain and we need that human interaction day to day. And so it can’t always be just a caregiver. I think it’s really beneficial for them to get out and be able to interact with other people that aren’t just family, that aren’t just there on their normal basis and create those relationships too, because I think they get something out of that. They also get meals. Like I never even considered that, but that’s a big burden off of a caregiver’s plate. If you don’t have to feed them breakfast, lunch, and a snack. I know all day stays are a little different on what meals are available and things like that. But you also know that it’s going to be a well-rounded meal cause they have to fit certain qualifications to have the meal plan. So it’s not like you’re feeding a toddler, Mac and cheese and fruit snacks, like she said, biscuits and gravy, like, yes, sign me up. I’ll be there. And I also think it’s also enticing for, especially here in the Midwest we’re meat, potato people, and we are all about the comfort food. So I know even as a nurse a lot of my people that I take care of, like that is what speaks to their heart food and especially good food. And I think it’s great. I just love that. There’s also that benefit as well.
You know, it was really beneficial for us as a family because my dad lived in his house 24 seven, but there wasn’t one person living with him 24 seven. So having food that didn’t spoil or keeping fresh fruits and vegetable were harder in the house, then. You know, if somebody was, if you were cooking for a couple of people all the time. So it was a really nice option to not only have to have our caregivers cook, what dad liked and, just cook for one, but it also kept it made it easier to not have to worry about keeping groceries in the house to the same point when he was there four days a week and having great meals each time. He liked his meat and potatoes like most people do and everybody has their favorites, but there were certain things that, I would go to pick him up and he would leave the spinach on the plate or some of that stuff. So it wasn’t always his favorite, but he sure loved having those desserts. Cause he didn’t get dessert all the time at home. And so he really enjoyed that and he ate great. He loved to be able to eat there. We were really excited to be able to have that option for a very reasonable price, to be able to have lunch and dinner at our location, was really helpful for us.
I do like that KC had even mentioned. And again, I know not all day stays are the same, but like they’re willing to work with altered diets. Like that can be stressful too, as a caregiver when you’re dropping somebody off, let’s say their on a puree diet. Well at home you would normally just puree whatever and take care of it or buy pre pureed food and feed that. But. To know that they’re willing to help them with that and take care of that for you. It’s one less thing that you have to worry about. You don’t have to plan and puree food to send with them. It’s going to be taken care of. I think the stress alleviation that goes with something like a day stay this for some peace of mind and also to give breaks so you can take care of yourself as well, I think is very beneficial.
The regular scheduled time off just gives you something to look forward to. And when you know that your loved one’s looking forward to it too. It’s even that much better.
Yeah, no, I could only imagine. I don’t take care of somebody day in and day out, but I live for my weekends. And to know that those are two days that I have, that I can do certain things and take care of things. I’m sure that that’s the same way, in a lot of ways, like, okay, on Tuesday they go to day stay and I can go to the store or. I can get my hair cut or I can work from eight to noon and get some hours in. I think that just like we’ve, I’ve said throughout this podcast, is that just knowing that there’s someone else that’s going to have some responsibility and that you can trust them a hundred percent, it has to be great peace of mind.
I don’t know what we would have done without the day’s stay option. It would have been much more difficult and much more expensive just to be honest. So it was. Such a great value in such a wonderful program that we were able to find for my dad. I was so thankful that we found it. It was for us, we drove 23 miles one way to get him there. And that was an investment, but it was so worth it, for all the reasons that we’ve talked about. So if you are a family caregiver out there and you haven’t thought of, or haven’t investigated, if a day stay option is available for your family in your area, I really encourage you to do that. Don’t prejudge whether or not it’s going to be a good fit for you. Go and visit. And most of these organizations have a free day that your loved one can go and spend a day there to see if it’s a good fit for you. I would really encourage you to do that. I know my aunt, I think because my mom didn’t enjoy it. She was just really thinking there’s no way my dad would like it. And so she was pretty much, well, you guys can try that, but I don’t see that working. We just didn’t know, but it ended up being such a great thing for him. And again, knowing that you have these people, medical professionals that are looking out for you, if you have med changes, if you have questions on some of those things, just having that easy person to mention, we’re trying this med and you might look for any side effects. Those kinds of conversations with some professionals can be helpful and put your mind at rest as well. So, I think day stays are great opportunity. I hope to see more and more of them pop up around the country as we have the aging population, we definitely have the need and I hope that this becomes part of our solution so that we can allow our caregivers, the opportunity to keep their family members at home as long as possible. And they’re going to be able to do that because they’re going to be able to take care of themselves better if they’re sharing the load. And as I’ve said before, that team that you’re building around your loved one is so important. And if you can get an organization like this to be a part of that team, I just can’t recommend it highly enough
So just to reminder, as KC had mentioned in the podcast, if you need to find a day stay, you could call the United Way and that number is directly is 211, and they can help find you programs in your local area.
We found a list that specialized in dementia care through the Alzheimer’s Association, if you’re looking for a memory care unit, that might be another resource as well. So listeners, we hope that this has been, informational to you and giving you some more food for thoughts on the topic of day say programs.
And just a reminder that A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have medical, financial, or legal questions, please contact your local professionals. We look forward to joining you again next week, take heart in your season of caring.
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