How Can I Convince My Father to Go to an Alzheimer's Adult Day Care?

8 answers | Last updated: Dec 02, 2016
Hallie in cumberland, ri asked...

How can I convince my father to go to an Alzheimer's adult day care center? We all need a break and he needs more socialization, but refuses to go.


Expert Answers

Beth Spencer is a social worker in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with more than 25 years of experience with families who have a member with dementia. She is coauthor of Understanding Difficult Behaviors and Moving a Relative with Memory Loss: A Family Caregiver's Guide. She directs Silver Club, early-stage and adult day programs serving individuals with Alzheimer's and related illnesses.

First, you need to think about it from your father’s point of view. Most likely he has no idea what the center is. He can't picture it in his mind, he can't remember it even if he has visited, and, on some level, he knows that he fails at or has trouble with new things. Saying no to anything new becomes a habit for many people with dementia -- it's a way to avoid failure and fear. Also he probably doesn' t see the need for socialization, particularly if he did not participate in social groups earlier in life.

Generally I suggest that families bring the person to visit with a very vague statement such as, "We are going to visit a senior center." Or sometimes I suggest they go do an errand and casually stop by. I try to make sure that on the first visit the person comes at a time when we are doing something that might appeal to him -- even if it's just having lunch. I invite the family member to stay with us for the first visit, and sometimes for several visits. Right now we have a husband who brings his wife, they have lunch together, and then he leaves "to run a few errands" for several hours. We give her an index card that tells her what time he will be back. We're starting with a short day of several hours and will gradually build up the time. It is imperative that the person be made to feel safe.

I always suggest we try it for 4 or 5 visits and most of the time people get used to our routines and become comfortable. We work hard to help them find a friend, whether it's another member or a volunteer. That said, adult day programs do not work for everyone. Some people fare much better with a companion in the home. Someone who has never been social, or who has severe hearing or vision deficits on top of dementia, may never really adjust.


Community Answers

Joyg answered...

That was an extremely good answer.  It gave action steps to follow which is always helpful.  It took my husband many months to adjust to his permanent facility.  I wish I had some of these tips at that time.  He is now very happy there.


A fellow caregiver answered...

We knew my father-in-law would never agree to go to day care. We told him that he would be volunteering there, that there were people there who needed help or someone to talk to and he would be really good at that. The staff at the ALF had no problem with this, in fact they didn't seem surprised at all, and said he could help by pushing wheelchairs, etc. Whenever my father-in-law was reluctant to go (because this was a huge change in his routine) we talked about how much good he was doing with his "help".


Mad127d@aol.com answered...

And in the last sentence "someone who has never been social" "they may never adjust" I see my mother in law.


Joyg answered...

Saying they need his help as a volunteer is great.  There are two women in my husbands small permanent community who love to help take care of everyone.  One woman who was moved out wants to come back because she liked volounteering there!


Frazzled46 answered...

"Daycare" sounds somewhat childish to them. It makes them feel like a child that has to go off to school. My Mom was resistent to going but she only goes two days a week and she LOVES it!

We refer to it as "The Club" . It sounds more like something she belongs to than something she needs. She will always ask "Am I going to the club today?"


Nephish777 answered...

Our family told my wife's mother that it was a senior activity center.


Grandma jo answered...

I recently was able to get 87 year old mother to go to Adult Day Care. I, too, thought that the name sounded demeaning so I established the name "Activity Day" for the days that she goes. I , also, have her going on Saturdays, as that is a bad day for TV which is basically all that she does at home.