All About Senior Day Care With Eric Ward


Senior Day CareOn today’s episode, we speak with Eric Ward of Enhancing Life – Senior Day Care.  We begin to understand exactly WHAT a Senior Day Care is and also HOW MUCH IT COSTS. We discover the benefits of such programs.  Among them are physical, mental and social stimulation.  Eric walks us through how such offerings can SAVE families money compared to other alternatives such as in home care.  Listen to this podcast to see if it’s right for you and your family.

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Full Transcript:

Price Jett: Well hello everyone. This is Price Jett again from Elder Care 101, and we have a fantastic guest today about a topic that’s an unusual one, I think, and I think something that you’re going to learn a lot from and enjoy. The topic today is adult daycare, and we have a very special guest with us, Eric Ward. Eric, welcome to Elder Care 101.

Eric Ward: Oh good morning, thank you. Thank you for having me.

Price Jett: Eric, tell us a little bit, before we dive into the specifics of adult daycare, tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us a little bit about how you got into the space. What’s the name of your organization? Just tell us what brought you to the adult daycare space?

Eric Ward: Okay. Well, I’ve been a nurse for about 10 years now, a little over 10 years actually. I’ve been working at one of the local hospitals. Then probably about three or four years ago, while working in a hospital, I would continually see patients, particularly seniors and their families, seeing their situation, seeing their home life situation, and seeing that the need for affordable, and accessible, and high quality care that they would need at home.
I remember one particular story of a wife who was taking care of her husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she was trying to juggle trying to care for him, but being frustrated with the cost. Being frustrated with the quality of everything, so at that point I thought to myself, “Maybe I could come up and start my own company that would actually help with this situation.”
My first step was, I thought maybe I could start a companion home care company. This company, we would send individuals into the home to help individuals, help loved ones, with the care of their husband, wife, parent. Send them into the home, give them the care that they need, but do it at a more of an affordable cost. Also, I thought if I could keep my company small, I can control the quality better so I could also give them a higher quality service.
About three years we started a Companion Home, Home Care Company. We did that for about two, two and a half years, but during that time, and doing that while I was doing that, one thing that jumped out to me was even if you have the best caregiver going into the house, even if you were the best in-home care company, the one problem that you still would have to deal with was isolation.
I would see some of the clients that we would have, still having that feeling of isolation, still feeling that they’re just in the house. Every day they’re just waking up, watching TV, not really engaging with the world. My wife and I, who also was helping me run the Companion Care Company, we thought about this. We prayed about it, and during that process, the concept of adult daycare came to us.
We researched it more. Looked at all the specific details, and realized that this concept is really what we wanted. The concept where we were still addressing the need of affordable care, high quality care, and then now we were tackling the problem of isolation … tackling that issue of isolation, and handling all of those issues at a pretty good way.

Price Jett: That moves us into, Eric, talking about the differences between adult daycare and in-home care. Give us a sense for what an adult daycare service is and how it addresses the issues of isolation and other issues. Talk to our audience, who may not be familiar, or as familiar with adult daycare as they would be with the in-home care concept.

Eric Ward: Adult daycare is, to really simplify it, and it’s not to be demeaning to any adults who need the service, it’s sort of equivalent to a child daycare. It is a center or facility where adults can come, and these adults are typically adults that need care or supervision during the day. Loved ones would have their parent or spouse come to the center maybe in the mornings, and then they would be picked up in the afternoon or evening.
During that time while they’re at the center, adult daycares typically would provide meals. They give them a breakfast, snacks, as well as lunch. Also, during that time they’re at the adult daycare, there are structured activities. Activities that are designed to promote socialization. They’re designed to promote community, also stimulate the participants. Stimulate them mentally as well as there are different physical activities that we do to also stimulate them physically as well.
Also, at the adult daycare, health screenings are performed. When I say health screenings meaning just some of your simple, typical screenings. Such as we do periodic vital signs. Blood pressures, oxygen levels, daily weight. Also, checking skin integrity. So you have the health monitoring component going on.
Also, we also at the adult daycare, can handle and assist with ADLs. Individuals who may need help going to the bathroom, staff at adult daycare can help with that. If anyone needs help with grooming, they help with that.
Almost everything that can be done with an in-home-care caregiver coming into the home, almost everything can be done at the center. The only limitation that we have is, of course we could, adult daycares probably would not be suitable for somebody who’s bedridden.
We can, as well as other adult daycares, can help individuals even if they’re in wheel chairs. As long as they can get to the center, and we can, typically adult daycares can help with that, if they can get to the center, we can help with all of their care needs that they may have.

Price Jett: Got it. Got it. So, short of someone being bedridden, even if they have limited mobility, in wheel chairs as you mentioned, they come together at the adult center. There you have activities, both physical and social, and so that’s the big difference I suppose.
People are engaged with one another. Engaged with the staff, and it helps them sort of have a more rich and fulfilling day, as opposed to just being at home and having someone there from time to time. Is that the big difference?

Eric Ward: Yes, and like for instance some of the activities that we have, we do do some of the more traditional games as far as we may do crafts, some of the board games, card games, as well as other games like bingo. We have those traditional activities, but we also have other activities that I feel are a little bit different, and fun, and rewarding.
We have, at our facility, we have like a little miniaturized bowling alley, so residents who know how to bowl in the past, and now because of physical or mental limitations can’t do the more traditional bowling, can now do bowling at our facility. We also have things like more physical games such as chair volleyball. We also have a component that we really try and infuse is a community … We have community projects.
Different projects that we help the participants with … We help the participants with these projects, but they still feel like they’re contributing, still connected to the community. For instance, one project we have was we helped put together baskets, supply baskets, for some of the local teachers at one of our nearby elementary schools. They helped us put together those baskets.
Another thing we’re working on now is helping to make blankets. These blankets will be used to give to children at a homeless shelter, or at local hospitals. Then we also have a intergenerational element with the center. Other adult daycares may have this element as well. There is a nearby school, and we have periodic visits from the kids from that school coming over to the center, and interacting with the seniors.
Sometimes the kids may read to the seniors. They may do a joint activity together, they may do a craft together. Both individuals benefit from this. The seniors benefit because they feel like they’re still connected, they’re still helping kids in a way that they hadn’t done in a while. The kids feel connected to the senior, and they’re learning how to interact with the older generation. We definitely have those different elements that you just won’t get when someone is just at home, and just receiving in-home-care.
Another thing I just thought about, a lot of times the individuals, the loved one, they feel tired, or they may feel like they don’t want to leave the house. They may feel as if they don’t want to leave their comfort zone of being at home. Another thing with adult daycares that for the most part they’re pretty flexible so even if the loved one has some resistance, but you realize it’s still a good idea for them to get out every once in a while, some people can keep … they can keep their in-home-care caregiver, but then maybe once or twice a week for four or five hours, they can come to the center.
That way the individual, the loved one, still has their in-home-care caregiver, they still have the comfort of being at home, but every once in a while, they’re getting the benefits of coming to a center. You can sort of infuse the two methods. During that time that they’re at the center, you don’t have to pay for that caregiver so it would also could be more affordable design or more affordable plan.

Price Jett: I think that’s great, Eric. I read a study once about some innovative projects that were taking place in Australia where they paired senior folks with children and young folks. They found that through that interaction the folks, the seniors, they maintained their physical mobility longer. They had greater mental acuity, and so many benefits that just came from this cross-generational interaction.
I think that’s great. You talked a little bit about … Several times you mentioned being affordable, and being more affordable than some other options. Talk to us a little bit about that. How is an adult daycare service, how does it help families save money compared to some other options that are out there?

Eric Ward: One of [inaudible 00:15:00] more affordable is because … I guess the best way to describe it is like this. When you have a in-home-care person coming in, those prices are going to be higher because it’s one-on-one care. Even for the cheapest in-home-care company, there’s going to be more than you would pay at a adult daycare because you’re paying for one-on-one attention. Whereas at an adult daycare, our ratio is for every participant … for every six participants we have one caregiver.
It’s as if you are sharing the resources. One particular study that I saw is that your average in-home-care company may charge something like $20 an hour for care in the home. Whereas for adult daycare, the average price, you could be looking at something like anywhere from $9 to $10 an hour of care.

Price Jett: Oh really? It’s almost half?

Eric Ward: Yes.

Price Jett: Got it.

Eric Ward: Over time, that adds up. If you do the math, depending on how many hours of care someone may need during the week, that adds up. Then over the week, that savings adds up, and then you’re looking at the savings over a month, and you’re looking at overall savings over a year. Even if, as I mentioned before, even if someone wanted to still use in-home-care, and just wanted to use adult daycare periodically, you still save money.
Like I said before, you can have your caregiver, but then let’s say twice a week your loved one goes to adult daycare. During that time that they’re at the adult daycare, you’re not paying that caregiver. You’re paying the adult daycare prices. You cen even see significant savings even doing that route. As well as, like I said, I just believe in the product, and I just believe what you get at the adult daycare is so much more than you can get just by being isolated in the home.

Price Jett: Mm-hmm (affirmative). The social component and keeping them mentally alert during that time. That’s great. Eric, talk to us a little bit about trends. Is this something that is growing across the country? How long has it been in place? I think it’s something that people don’t hear about nearly as much as assisted living facilities, or in-home-care. It’s just an option people don’t hear that much about. Can you talk to us a little bit about what’s going on across the country?
Eric Ward: Yeah, adult daycare, as you said, is sort of a … is not as well-known a concept, especially in this area, the Fredericksburg, Virginia area. It’s not as a well-known concept as some of your other more traditional care [inaudible 00:18:46]. It is something that is growing. I believe it is growing for the reasons I answered before because people are looking for more affordable options.
Because of that, because people need more affordability, it seems like the industry, and people in the industry are realizing it looks like adult daycare can definitely help meet that problem. Another thing it also does, and why it’s growing, is that adult daycares can keep families together. One issue that caregivers have to deal with is the stress of caring for a loved one.
Because they would love to have mom or dad staying with them or spouses would love to have their husband or wife stay with them, if they are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of Dementia, sometimes the stress of taking care of that loved one can be overwhelming so the first thought is, “This is too much.” They would have to go through an assisted living or into a nursing home.
With the adult daycare, even if that loved one is just coming to adult daycare maybe two or three times a week, that can give that loved one the respite time that they need to recharge, reduce their stress level, so as their stress level goes down, they don’t have that sense of urgency of, “Oh this is too much. I need to get mom, or dad, or my husband, or wife into a nursing home or assisted living.”
With them going to the adult daycare a few times a week, now they can deal with the issues of life a little bit better. In essence, it keeps families together, and families, I believe, want to stay together. Because of that, more and more individuals in the industry are looking at adult daycare as a viable option, and because of that I think it is growing.

Price Jett: It’s great. Can you talk to us a little bit about your typical family, Eric? Is your client typically the adult child who’s working during the day? Is it a spouse who has a disabled loved one? Is it all across the board? What is a typical client family look like from the provider’s perspective?

Eric Ward: We do have individuals from across the board. We have spouses who are retired, but they are spending a lot of time caring for their husband or their wife. They just need a little bit of a break to try to care for themselves. A little bit of a break just to rest and recharge. We also have individuals who have their parent living with them. Again, they may need a break, or they see that their parent is just in the house all day. They’re not getting the mental or physical stimulation that they think they should have. They bring them to our facility.
We also have a couple of individuals who are caring for their grandparent. Again, they’re even using adult daycare as a extra resource or help in caring for a grandparent. We also have some individuals where they’re caring for their great-uncle or aunt, and sometimes we get kind of, in that situation, one situation we have is a little bit interesting because I think the uncle actually lives at his house, so there are multiple nieces who are having caregivers come into his house, staying with him just to care for him because they don’t live together, but then also they recognize that it’s probably a good idea for him to get out of the house so they set something up where he comes to the day center. We have people from all across the board as far as clients.

Price Jett: That’s great. Eric, talk to us a little bit about your specific services. You had mentioned earlier meals and snacks. You had mentioned social activities, and getting them involved, and having a purpose as in building care packages for teachers and students. Walk us through, for those that would be completely uninitiated to what a senior daycare service is. Walk us through what happens in your facility. What are the services? What does a day look like? Help people imagine what it might be if they themselves weren’t there.

Eric Ward: Mm-hmm (affirmative). At our facility we provide breakfast and lunch, and then we also provide two snacks, a mid-morning snack, and a afternoon snack. Also at our facility we have, in the mornings we have a time where we may do an activity such as current events. We may read the newspaper or read certain magazines to get them connected, get them thinking about current issues, current events. We also have exercise program. We try to do a exercise program every morning.
We also have crafts, scheduled crafts throughout the day. We also have activities that would help motivate reminiscing, so we have like a reminiscing component.

Price Jett: Let’s touch on that really quickly. What’s a reminiscing component?

Eric Ward: A reminiscing activity would be something like maybe you would maybe read about an event, a popular event that happened in the past. For instance, you may talk about the first time … the first moon launch, and things like that. Maybe you might read a passage sort of summarizing the first moon launch summarizing what happened on the first moon landing, or summarizing the first moon landing. After you read a short summary of that event, a short summary of what was going on, then you may engage the participants with that. You may ask them, “Do you remember this?”

Price Jett: Oh I see.

Eric Ward: “Where were you when you heard about this? Did you watch it on the news? Did you see it in the newspaper?” Even individuals with Alzheimer’s or Dementia, they may not be able to remember what happened an hour ago, but usually their long-term memory is still intact. As you engage them with some of these events, it brings back memories. A lot of times, it’s pleasant memories, and it gives them a sense of comfort. Also as you’re talking to them and connecting with them, it gives them a sense of belonging and connecting.
Another activity, we haven’t done this yet, but I’m trying to get something set up where you may play certain songs that were maybe out during their childhood, and then asking them, “Do you remember where you were during this song? Did you have this song playing at your wedding, or this song at a school dance?” Different things like that.
Reminiscing activities either playing music or summarizing an activity that happened in the past that would hopefully sort of invoke certain memories or certain emotions, positive memories or emotions, within the individual. Get the sort of talking and connecting with other people at the center about what was going on with them during that time.

Price Jett: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Got it. You mentioned, I also want to back up just a little bit. You mentioned providing breakfast, providing lunch, and providing two snacks, but you did not mention dinner. Is that because a senior care facilities are only open a certain time of the day and they close by dinner? Talk to us a little bit about that. About how long in the day the services are available.

Eric Ward: Yes, typically adult daycares or similar facilities are closed by dinner time. We would close … We’re open from 6:30 in the morning until 6:00 at night. Usually by that time loved ones have already picked up the participant and once they get home, then they would eat dinner. That’s typically how most adult daycare centers work. You would get … They usually would serve breakfast and lunch, and then the two snacks because your late afternoon snack will probably be around 3:30, 4:00, so that still holds them over, and then once they get home then they would have dinner.

Price Jett: I got you. Yep, pretty helpful. Any other services or activities, Eric, that we haven’t touched on?

Eric Ward: I think we touched on most of them. As I mentioned before, the exercising. We also have the intergenerational component. Also, we also do periodic outings, especially as the weather gets better, we plan on doing more outings. One of the big things we like to do is take the participants on walks, either at some of the local parks, or other scenic, safe environments, so we may go for walks.
We’ve also planned on doing other even field trips like to some of the local museums or some of the other locations that we believe the seniors would enjoy. That’s another thing, doing more outings. At times, we may even take the seniors, even though we do [inaudible 00:30:48] and provide lunch here, sometimes it’s fun to seniors would like to even go out maybe to a restaurant and get some lunch and something to eat. That’s just another thing we may do. It’s like I said, those planned and fun outings as well.

Price Jett: Eric, this has been so informative. One thing when we met earlier, when I actually visited your facility, we were talking about how families deal with the cost of elder care, and I think one thing that was very interesting about your services is you mentioned you help families who need to pay for this through Medicaid. Can you expand on that a little bit?

Eric Ward: Yes. Even though most adult daycares are more affordable, that cost still can be sort of too much for some families. If an individual qualifies for Medicaid, Medicaid has a program that would actually pay for an individual to attend an adult daycare. In different areas they have it packaged in different ways, but for instance, in this area in Virginia, Medicaid has a waiver program that an individual can apply to see if they qualify for this waiver program under their Medicaid umbrella.
Medicaid comes in, they do an assessment on the individual, they also look at the individual finances, and if that individual qualifies for the waiver, then they can come to the center, and when they come to the center, Medicaid will reimburse the center, or pay for their time at the center. Medicaid would pay for the time at the center, and also Medicaid would also pay for transportation. They would pay for that individual to be picked up by a Medicaid transportation company and transported to the center.
I think it’s a really good program. Then also, within that program Medicaid can also have that individual receive care at home as well as the center, and I guess the best way to explain it is like this. As I mentioned earlier, some individuals may feel it’s too overwhelming to be out of the house, at a center five days a week, from morning until evening, but with this Medicaid program, that individual can receive care at home.
Medicare will cover that, and then for maybe two or three times a week, that individual can come to the center and Medicaid still would cover that as well. This program allows them to infuse the in-home-care service as well as the adult daycare service. Like I said, for those who qualify, it’s a really good program that Medicaid provides that will help those individuals who would not be able to afford it otherwise.

Price Jett: Eric, I think that’s great. I think people are going to learn so much as they listen to this podcast. If people wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about your organization, Enhancing Life, how would they go about doing that? How would they reach out and get in touch with you?
Eric Ward: Yes. They can call us at area code 540-693-1331, or they can go to our website, which is www.enhancinglifesdc, so that’s enhancinglife S as in Sam, D as in dog, C as in, or they can go email us at

Price Jett: Eric, thank you so much. For me it was educational. I feel like I was able to put some frame work around this term, senior daycare or adult daycare, and your points about helping keep families together, providing social, mental, and physical stimulation, and all at the same time doing it more economically, and even having some outside assistance from Medicaid I just think is phenomenal.
Thank you so much for what you do every day. Thank you so much for spending time with us and being so generous with your time. Look forward to speaking with you again, Eric. Appreciate it so very much.

Eric Ward: Thank you. You have a good day.
Price Jett: Okay, you as well. Take care. Bye-bye.

Eric Ward: Bye-bye.

Price Jett: If you enjoyed today’s podcast, go to and download the full show notes. There you’ll find extra resources and links available. Further, you can also go to the website and click on “Ask EC 101.” Ask your own question, and this can be part of an upcoming podcast. Again, that’s We’re here to serve you each and every week of the year, so go there and check us out. Like us on Facebook, and iTunes too. I’d really appreciate it. All the best. Talk to you soon.

February 9, 2019 |

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