Welcome Missy Dahlgren

Welcome Missy Dahlgren

Join us in welcoming Melissa (Missy) Dahlgren to our team as the new child-in-home/respite supervisor. She has worked as an in home supervisor/therapist to families for the past four years at another agency. She has also served as a respite home manager for a brief time. So, you can see why we are thrilled to have her as part of our team.

Before leaving her former employer, Missy was the chief administrator of the respite program. She supervised three respite facilities and their corresponding managers. “I am hoping to transfer the skills from my last position to Helping Hands Respite Care and am committed to helping us grow as an agency,” shared Dahlgren. “I am a friendly person and hope that the next time you stop by the administrative offices that you will look for me for a quick chat. My hobbies are farming, spending time with my two daughters and husband, as well as shopping. I am looking forward to working with everyone.”

For those of you who were wondering, Tarra Boris has moved on to a position as a social worker in the Waverly School system. We were honored to have her for as long as we deed and wish her the very best on the career path that she had dreamed of from the beginning.

5 Common Triggers of Wandering

It is great to have resources, to get another point of view, or to hear from people facing the same issues you are as a caregiver. A big concern is wandering, that is why I am sharing this article on the Five Common Triggers of Wandering.  If you are caring for a loved one with memory problems the website www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com always has some great stories. This time of year our concerns for the one in our care escalates as the weather gets worse and the consequences of someone wandering off from home are greater.

Five Common Triggers of Wandering

Dan’s wife of 65 years is home…the only problem is, she doesn’t know it. “A daily request is for me to take her ‘home,’” Dan said, “in spite of the fact she is home and surrounded by her familiar home décor. She cannot say where home really is and my attempts for her to describe what home means have had no effect. It appears as if ‘home” is where she was a mother to our five children.”
That desire to go home is one of the common triggers for wandering for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. They often don’t realize they are home, so they are on a quest to try to get there.
Following, from the Alzheimer’s Association, are five common triggers that might prompt an individual with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia to wander, and what family caregivers can do to help:
1. Delusions or hallucinations. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can misinterpret sights and sounds. Caregiver Evelynn says her mother wakes up in the middle of the night, insisting that someone is in the house and intent on doing her wrong. “I had to put an extra lock on the front door because she wakes up at night or from a nap in her chair and believes someone is at the door or on the porch, and she needs to let them in,” Evelynn noted. As Evelynn found, sometimes safety features are needed in a home to ensure a loved one stays safe.
2. Overstimulation. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease can become easily upset when in a noisy and crowded environment. If that happens, they may try to escape from the chaos and wander. Avoid large, noisy places. Look for restaurants with quiet areas. Discourage big parties and family gatherings, or find a quiet room for your loved one to sit, then invite guests in to visit one at a time.
3. Fatigue, particularly during late afternoons and evenings. The later in the day, the more tired an individual with Alzheimer’s disease can become. This may lead to restless pacing back and forth, noted Monica Moreno, director of Early-Stage Initiatives for the Alzheimer’s Association. Activities and exercises during those times of the day can calm an individual and help to minimize the triggers for wandering.
4. Disorientation to place and time. Like Dan’s wife in the real-life example above, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease may not recognize they are already home. Avoid busy places that can cause confusion. Refrain from correcting the individual, and reassure the person he or she is safe. If the individual is feeling anxious, agitated or restless, take that person for a walk.
5. Change in routine and unmet needs. Lydia had just moved to a long-term care community. Confused about leaving her familiar home, Lydia was found wandering in her new environment in an effort to make her way back to the place from which she was most familiar. Reassure the individual with Alzheimer’s disease that she is not lost or abandoned. And put safety features in place to keep that person safe. Establish a regular routine. Those who have Alzheimer’s disease do better in a structured environment. Because unmet needs also can trigger wandering, make it a practice to suggest a loved one go to the bathroom after a meal.

Kate’s Memory Cafe

Memory Cafe Dancing

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. Irish Headstone Message 

Kate’s Memory Café Place for Friendship, Support, and Encouragement

When I started facilitating Kate’s Memory Café, the one thing that I had not counted on was the inevitable endings that we would face together. Whether from the decision to place a loved one in a care facility, or the ultimate good-bye that death would bring. At this month’s Memory Café we learned that since we had last gathered in November, several of our beloved participants had passed away. Some we knew about, but others were news to us.

On that day, we were blessed with the opportunity to confront our greatest fears and grief as several of our members arrived solo, ready to be embraced by their friends from the Café, friends everyone, who are walking parallel paths, always in search of answers, solutions, or tricks to make a difficult care-taking task easier. Irish quote on grief for Kate's Memory Cafe

Largely, over the past 20+ months our journey has been filled with joy, music, laughter and love. It has been such a privilege to see the friendships develop at the Memory Café as each and every one found solace in the other. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Friendship is born at the moment when one says to another: What you too? I thought I was the only one?”

The Holy Spirit guided me to change a few things for this gathering. I had re-arranged the room to accommodate the fact that I wanted to have a cozy fireside chat about surviving the long cold winter. At the last minute, I asked one of our volunteers to take the extra chairs and place them in a circle at the front of the room. I had grabbed a handful of strips of paper thinking that we would write those things that we wanted to let go of on the paper and then toss them in the fire. As we gathered I asked those sitting in the circle to answer the question “What do you need?” There was no answer more poignant than Dan’s as he struggled to find the right words as he waved his arm to include everyone in the circle. “This,” he said. “We need more of this.”

Hosting Kate’s Memory Café is such an honor. It simply would not happen without the support of wonderful volunteers, including the musicians who robustly share their talent, resource library from the Alzheimer’s Association, and of course our sponsor, AF Group, whose financial support makes it possible for us to put out a nice meal and cover the costs of materials for fun activities.

Indeed we do need more of “this.” If you know of someone who is caring for a loved one with early or mid-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it would be an honor to include them and their care partners in our circle of friends. Kate’s Memory Café meets monthly on the second Sunday (unless it is a holiday). We gather from 2pm to 4pm at Helping Hands Respite Care’s facility in East Lansing, 201 Hillside Court. The event is FREE of CHARGE. To reserve a table at the Memory Café call Katie Donovan at 517-242-7355, katie@helpinghandsrespite.care

Katie is a paid consultant to Helping Hands Respite Care, assisting with marketing, content and fund development. She facilitates the Memory Café, pro-bono, as an homage to her mother and father. Larry Donovan had Alzheimer’s disease and passed away in 2004, Mary Donovan was a faithful and tireless caregiver to her beloved.
Helping Hands Respite Care operates six programs providing professional respite care for families in a variety of circumstances. To learn more, please share this link: www.helpinghandsrespite.care

Level of Care Acuity Assessment Process

Seniors participating in skill game. Level of Care Acuity Level Assessment will occur on a number of abilities.

Supervisor Alison Sarkozy on Level of Care Acuity Assessment

After some careful planning, a few months ago the Helping Hands Respite Care ADS program implemented a Level of Care Acuity Assessment system for our senior members of the adult day program. By sharing an assessment tool during intake of a new member, families were asked to fill out the assessment tool based on what skills and behaviors they could observe at home. That family-based assessment provided the baseline for determining staffing care ratio needs and a corresponding fee schedule based on staffing. After 30 days the same assessment tool is filled out for that individual through a collaborative effort and input from those care providers who see that individual in action throughout the day at the adult day program.

The Acuity Assessment covers everything from mental sharpness, ability to engage and participate, making needs known, ability to feed self, attend to personal toileting, and mobility. Being able to have these mental, physical, and social markers is the kind of data which, if consistently available for periodic review, provides a real benefit to the member, their family and our staff. Having the family participate from the outset also provides a common language for marking progress or critical changes.

Level of Care Acuity Assessment Well Received

By and large, this new system of assessment has been very well received, and from our perspective helps us do an even better job at monitoring and responding to care needs. This effort is also part of a statewide data collection initiative. Since our Executive Director, John Stauffer, recently concluded two years as President of the Michigan Adult Day Services Association, members of the association are attempting to apply common language and measurement across the state from organizations with similar missions and populations. “As an industry we have seen the writing on the wall, there are mounting challenges that our major health systems are being faced with regarding serving this senior population. If the adult day services industry is going to compete or collaborate with big health systems we need to be able to point to reliable data that demonstrates our industry’s service value and effectiveness,” shares Stauffer. “We, at Helping Hands and at the state level, are proud to be involved in a project which may very well have a positive impact nationwide.”

New Phone System

new phone system arrives at helping hands.

A Message from Office Administrator – Janette Lauzon, On New Phone System

As you know, we are a small non-profit and money is always tight. It has been my personal mission to find opportunities to save dollars anywhere we can without compromising quality of service. We were paying four phone bills: the main phone system in our office, the phone line for our alarm system, the Respite House phone, and the emergency phone. Due to our wonderful Executive Director having an open mind, we were able to convert all those systems to one bill that saved us $255 a month. Yes, $255 a MONTH!

Along with the savings, it will provide a more efficient service. First, we will no longer have a separate emergency phone. There will be an auto attendant that answers the phone and will ask if this is after hours. If it is, you can press 1 and it will automatically forward the call to the person monitoring the “after hours” calls. Next, the “operator” or main line will be on two different phones so it can always be answered even if the person at the front desk has to step away. The phones are easier to use and can also be maintained online.

New Technologies Available on New Phone System

Additional new technologies are built into this phone – each supervisor or admin staff that has a phone can hold up to three calls at a time on their phone (not that we would want to) But you can have someone one hold, being talking to someone else and the phone can still ring in from another person calling in. The functions of the phone are much easier to use and understand than our existing phones. A huge improvement is that all admin and supervisory staff will have an app on our personal cell phones that will allow us to answer a call that comes into our work phone and speak to the caller from where ever we are, and the caller will only see the office number (not a cell number) through the app we can also call out and the person called will see the work number not the cell, allowing each of us a little freedom to answer the phone while we are away from the office, if we desire, without sacrificing personal cell information.

Verizon has a plan for non-profits that was able to take care of all our needs at a fraction of the cost. Please bear with us during this transition, and feel free to report any challenges you have with our new phone system. It will all be in place and activated within a few weeks. Thank you, John Stauffer for seeing the need to simplify where we can and helping it happen.

Thank You to So Many

John Stauffer writes about the Sleeping Giant - the Boom Generation

Thank You for 2016 and the Promise of 2017

As we roll into the New Year it is the appropriate time to take a moment and reflect on those things that have happened that I am thankful for. Our agency has been truly blessed with some special angels who have made a significant difference in the quality (and quantity) of care that we were able to provide to our community over the last year.

Thank You Volunteers

Vicki Rakowski (and her side kick Barb Zimmerman) spent hundreds of volunteer hours helping us improve how to get and retain volunteers for all of our programs. The fruits of their labor are being recognized every day as we slowly grow the number of dedicated volunteers who are assisting us not only in our group programs like our Adult Day Services (ADS) program and our after school program, Breaking Barriers Today (BBT). With Vickie and Barb’s help we have been able to expand services (through volunteers) further into the homes were we provide direct care respite services.

Front Office Thank You

Our front office staff, Rhonda Mliakoff and Janette Bauzon have only been with us a few months, but their professionalism and experience has created such a positive impact on our dedicated administrative team. We have come to lean on them and count on them for so many little things as it pertains to our computers, scheduling, and communicating with our care providers. Our care providers have been more responsive to this duo than any other we have had in my 5 ½ years as the head of this agency – so a big shout out to Rhonda and Janette for bringing the right ingredients to complete the blue ribbon recipe that makes up the Helping Hands Administrative staff.

Big Thank You to Marketing

When it comes to our marketing consultant Katie Donovan and her fearless interns Leah Gavin and Jackie Gibson, it is hard to fully appreciate the effort that comes from this group. But to get a glimpse of the quality of work they do just jump out to our website – most of what you see here was completed by them, also take a moment and LOOK at the newsletter. I am so proud of it. It represents so well in both picture and words the work that we do, again this is because of our marketing team. Katie has not allowed a piece of marketing – whether electronic or in print to reach our community that did not absolutely and completely represent us in the best light possible. People are recognizing us, and it is because of the effort put forth and the dedication to the purpose from Katie and her team.

Leaders that Deserve a Thank You

I’m thankful for our supervisors Jeff Nunham, Alison Sarkozy, Kathryn Green and Tarra Boris. Since our team is small we all have to wear so many hats and without asking, prodding, or poking they have stepped up in a big way taking on extra responsibilities, working longer hours where required, being creative and flexible in the way we train our new care providers. They have borne the brunt of the paperwork and processes of on-boarding a new care provider as I have been busy bringing the front office staff up to speed. No whines, no grunts, no groans – I am so lucky to have such a dedicated group of supervisors who believe in the mission of our agency, and their collective positive attitude models so well what we require and need from our care providers.

Special Individual Thank You

I have a special person I would like to say “Thank You” to. I think she thinks that I don’t even know what she does, but I do, and I am usually just too busy to take the time to appropriately acknowledge all that she does. This is Nurse Jane Rogers. Jane is our face and voice of our Adult Day Services program to all our families and our participant’s doctors. She does a wonderful job of assessing the needs of our participant’s every day and if someone is having a difficult day or an exceptionally good day, Jane takes it upon herself to make sure that all the appropriate people know. Her job goes way beyond passing meds and writing in charts. Her calm caring demeanor relaxes those whom she has to often share less than positive news, and the staff at ADS and the families would be heartbroken if we all didn’t have Jane as the person we could turn to whether for medical advice, a shoulder to cry on, or for a gluten free recipe to improve our health. Our agency is once again truly blessed to have someone as caring and compassionate as she is to oversee our needs in the adult day program.

Thank You Board Members Instrumental to Respite House Renovation

Our agency accomplished a major undertaking this year. It was the restoration of our Respite House. There were many people who had a lot of hours tied up into this project to make our respite house look new again and increase the enjoyment of our children and young adults who attend every week, but this project never would have happened without our board of directors. I was just stretched too thin, and our board stepped up in a big way – a special shout out goes to John Patterson who helped us work through the financial pieces required from McLaren to make the project possible, Sam Tucker for his crew from HCMO who did a fabulous job on the remodel portion especially the bathroom) Kevin as board president who showed up to supply some muscle and general fix it knowledge, and a huge gold star to Jane Beaudoin and her husband Gary who spent countless hours at the respite house completing projects, overseeing volunteers and wrangling up extra resources to get so many required little projects done. It feels really good to have a board that supports our agency as well as the Helping Hands Respite Care Board supported us this year, a huge heartfelt thank-you from me and the staff to all of you.

Care Providers Deserve Thank You

Where would we be without Care Providers? On several occasions our supervisors over the last year have commented on the QUALITY of the individuals who are coming to work for us as care providers. You – the care providers are the lifeblood of our agency. You, as care providers, are the workhorses, and the heart of our agency. The administrative staff can all be the best at what we do but without each of you, even when giving our best effort to the families we care for, all our efforts would be for naught. Your dedication, commitment and passion for the families in which you all work brings a smile to my face several times a day. I am thankful every day for the work you do, and the manner in which you accomplish that work, makes us an outstanding agency. Hardly a day goes by where a family member doesn’t call me or stop by my office to tell a “story” of an extraordinary effort from one of our care providers. Or of the close bond that has developed not only between the care provider and the person they are caring for, but the relationship and bonding that takes between the whole family and one of our care providers.
Speaking of families, they have shared stories with me themselves over the year about saved marriages, rekindled friendships between siblings, and the renewal of “date night” because of the services we provide each and every day. I am so thankful for our families who are able to entrust us to help them with a loved one so that the whole family has the opportunity to be in a better place.


Donors Keep Us Flowing – Thank You

If the care providers are the lifeblood, our donors are the engine that makes that lifeblood flow. Without their faith and support in the services we provide there would be no care providers to do the work. I am so thankful for a renewed relationship with Both AF Group and McLaren Greater Lansing, and our continued friendship with MSU, City of East Lansing, Dean Transportation, and our very good friends at Jackson National. It is important also to acknowledge those donors who have stepped up to become members of our Helping Hearts Giving Society, they continue to help us build a sustainable funding model where the emphasis is on caring and long term engagement. Whether you are a community funder, Helping Hearts Giving Society Member or a brand new donor or volunteer, you make the pieces come together for us.
When I started this piece I just wanted to say thank you to a couple of friends. I guess what I am most thankful for this year is that this piece is so long, because of having so many friends, agencies, families and staff to be thankful for. I love my job, I love what we get to do each day, and I am thankful that each and every one of you make my job as unique and special as it is. Happy New Year everyone, may your dreams, prayers and wishes for this year all come true.

All of us at Helping Hands believe that this New Year promises to be an even better year!

A Tale of Two Caregivers


This is a story of two caregivers and the service they provide for two young men seeking independence in two very different sets of circumstance.  

Nate and Max

Let’s look at Nate and his charge Max, a 22-year old with Down’s Syndrome. Since Nate’s arrival on the scene significant progress has been noted. Before Nate, Max was overly attached to his father who lives in one side of a duplex while Max occupies the other side in a group home format with one other man, each with their own care plan and caregiver.

On his good days, Max was an excitable and enthusiastic young man, fond of super heroes and music. On his bad days, his mood could cycle to combative and argumentative – a real handful for care providers. Max struggled with impulse control which expressed itself in behavior problems and poor diet, leaving Max extremely overweight and often unhappy. The group home environment had devolved to a chaotic, messy and even dirty space.Tale of two caregivers, Nate and Max

Several months ago, another care provider had intervened to engage Max and his housemates in a deep-cleaning and organizational mission. This mission turned into a reset of sorts for the house, the housemates, and Max in particular. As Nate arrived on the scene, armed with a care plan for Max and an intuition that some significant behavior changes could be made using the cleaner more organized environment as a way to attach incentives and awareness of healthy behaviors which would foster more independence and stability for Max.

In addition to a more orderly home environment Nate encouraged Max to make better food choices and to get moving by rewarding with favorite music to dance to. The results? Significant weight loss for Max, a heightened sense of responsibility, independence and a much better environment. Max is  still enthusiastic and excitable but that energy is channeled towards articulating and achieving his goals. Max is known to loudly chant his mantra:  Do it good! Make it better!

In many cases care providers are engaged to “do-for” what the client cannot do themselves. Nate’s wisdom and insight to know that Max’s journey towards independence is more about enabling Max to “do-for” himself.  We give kudos to Nate for his dedication and commitment to Max. Recently, we had another caregiving engagement where we thought Nate would be a good fit. Nate declined because he felt Max’s gains in independence were too new to sustain the loss of the connection he had established as a trusted caregiver. That’s dedication.

Sieta and Thomas

By contrast the relationship between Sieta and her charge, Thomas, are very different from Nate and Max but no less critical. Thomas is 20 years old. His disability comes from the physical challenges of Cerebral Palsy which means he must rely on a wheelchair to navigate his world.  Thomas has big dreams. He is attending Lansing Community College and someday would like to be a “stand-up” comedian – minus the stand-up part which is physically impossible.

Thomas’ needs from a care provider are very narrowly drawn. His self-determination is clear as are his goals, and his conviction to accomplish them.  For example, even though his care-provider could drive him to and from school, Thomas prefers to take public transportation.  Throughout his daily routine there are some speed-bumps he can’t get over without some help.  Here is a list of duties Sieta carries out to assist Thomas:

  • Sit with Thomas and catch up on the week or watch ESPN while waiting for the bus
  • Travel with Thomas on the bus, driver operates the lift which gets Thomas on the bus
  • Open the doors at the entrance of the Gannon building and the classroom
  • Move the chair away from the desk so Thomas can fit in with his wheelchair
  • Sit next to Thomas during class and assist with reading or writing as needed during the presentation
  • After class wait in cafeteria for bus to arrive, help with doors
  • Back at home review class material or study, offer assistance if needed

To outside observers Sieta and Thomas would appear to be friends on a similar path. However, the small services Sieta provides make a huge difference in his school life.  Being able to get to class on time, having a little help with physical obstacles, and then having the help to open a book to the right place during a lecture, or make notes for later are an enormous help.  Sieta appreciates the fact that Thomas participates in class and is a contributing member in group projects for class credit.

These services, although not the normal supports you would expect, are critically important to Thomas  for him to fully participate in class, which gets him closer to his life goals.

This Changes Everything

New Baby Changes Everything

Merry Christmas everyone, This Christmas will be especially memorable for me as I get to spend it with my first grandchild Eli Thomas Carr Stauffer who was born into this world at 10:55 PM  December 3rd. Those who know me already know of my love of babies, but for those who do not know me so well – what can I say? Babies are a blessing, they are the beauty of the earth, they make peace possible, the possibilities and the answers to all the hard questions can be found in the peace and gentleness that is experienced when looking into a new born baby’s eyes.

New Baby Changes Everything

All babies should be loved, all babies are special, but not all babies are born the same. Eli came through a difficult delivery and he did not breathe for several minutes after he was born. He appears healthy now, but as someone who has helped families with special needs for the last 5 years I am all too aware of what the repercussions could be from that lack of oxygen for the first several minutes of birth. We know now that Eli is physically healthy, cognitively we will figure that out down the road. But after holding him the first time regardless of any challenges he may face growing up, I and the rest of his entire family will be there for him no matter what. This was my little insight during this holiday season, God’s way of connecting me that much closer to the people I help serve on a daily basis. I now have a little clearer vision of how the families we serve do the miraculous things they do every day and I am even more thankful for being able to serve them and especially during this Holiday Season.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Tips to Reduce Risk of Falls

Alzheimer’s and Falling: Tips to Reduce Risks

By Ava M. Stinnett

As our loved ones age, the risk of falling increases. This may be due to changes in vision or perception, difficulty with balance, or cognitive impairment. Side effects from certain medications and medical conditions can cause dizziness or lightheadedness when standing. People with Alzheimer’s are generally at greater risk of falling. In fact, some studies show that problems with balance, walking, and falling may be an early sign of dementia. Falls are dangerous in that there is not only the risk of serious injury but there can also be the fear of falling again and a loss of confidence, leading to decreased activity.

A study from the medical journal Age and Ageing found that people with Alzheimer’s are three times more likely to suffer from hip fractures than those without the disease. If surgery and hospitalization are required, the resulting depression, disorientation, and disability may increase the chances that the person with Alzheimer’s can no longer be cared for at home.

Here are some suggestions to help prevent falls and allow your loved one to remain mobile and independent for as long as possible.

  • Daily exercise, such as walking in the neighborhood, at a local store, or on a treadmill to improve strength and balance
  • Regular eye exams to determine if cataracts, double vision, poorly fitting eyeglasses (or an old prescription), or changes to the visual field have occurred
  • Increasing light to achieve uniformity across spaces to minimize sudden changes in light levels, shadows or dark areas, and glare; using daylight where possible to help with depression or sleep disorders and improve general health
  • Maintaining good foot hygiene—examining the feet for cuts or bruises or long toenails—and wearing shoes that provide good support and have non-slip soles
  • Removing clutter, such as books, clothes, slippers, or other objects that someone could trip over, and making sure that rugs, loose carpets, or furniture aren’t posing a potential hazard
  • Installing grab bars or handrails where needed

Keep in mind that as Alzheimer’s progresses, it may be accompanied by poor judgment or decision-making skills. Your loved one may attempt to walk alone down the steps, walk outside when the sidewalks are slick from rain or snow, or try to get up from a chair or out of bed without help. Despite gentle and, perhaps, daily reminders, memory loss causes some people with dementia to continue trying to do things independently when it’s no longer safe to do so. Patience, understanding, and the implementation of safety measures are the best solutions for dealing with a challenging disease like Alzheimer’s.


Sleeping Giant Awakens

By John Stauffer

John Stauffer writes about the Sleeping Giant - the Boom GenerationIt is clear to me that the Boom Generation is a sleeping giant that is beginning to awaken…and it is cranky! For too long the needs of the families of the baby boomers have faced some daunting care circumstances. They are often faced with the care of aging/ailing parents and in some cases still raising children of their own – some with lifetime disabling conditions.  Organizations like ours dedicated to providing respite care across that very broad age spectrum are uniquely positioned to help, and also to feel the pain of an often-inadequate health and care system.

Each year I attend at least one industry-specific event. This year I attended NADSA the National Adult Day Services Association conference in Indianapolis. My trip was eventful for several reasons. First, and most important, was receiving the latest research aggregated in a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  The data shared in that report coupled with the changing trends in the health care industry had my head spinning.   Maybe that is why I had a fender-bender while going to the conference.  (Good news, no long term physical damage and the car was repaired in record time.)

I know you have heard the statistic about the number of boomers in America turning 65 each day (10,000!) and that fully one/third of them will need help to remain safely in their homes. But the stats that really got to me in this latest report were:

  • In 2017 50% of our population will be over the age of 50
  • Among seniors, better socialization reduces the incidence of stroke by 71%
  • Improved sleep reduces the incidence of stroke by 58%
  • Extreme loneliness is equal to the impact of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and reduces life expectancy by 8 years
  • 60% of those in long term care or senior assisted living facilities NEVER get a visitor

This tells me that the need for Adult Day programs is greater than ever.  Additionally, there was a law passed by the Feds in 2014 called the Impact Act which is fundamentally changing the way major health care organizations are operating.  The Impact Act relates to how Medicaid dollars are used. Prior to 2014 all of the Medicaid dollars were funneled to the large conglomerate health care providers which inspired many health organizations to create mega- operations with traditional hospital care, rehab care, adult day care all under one roof, effectively shutting out many smaller organizations like Helping Hands Respite Care.  Now large health care organizations must prove that those Medicaid dollars are being spread out.  The government is saying the Medicaid dollars are supposed to be used for the best care for the individual regardless of the size the organization.Comparison Chart showing cost and features for Adult Day programs versus Home Care, Assisted Living or Nursing Home

The Impact Act of 2014 further complicated things for major health care organizations by regulating the amount of dollars in the Medicaid “bucket” for an individual.  This has meant that hospitals are being financially penalized for repeat visits to the hospital or emergency room by the same patient. These limitations are forcing managed health care organizations to re-evaluate how to best utilize the Medicaid dollars and who to collaborate with to maximize the health outcome for individuals.

What does this mean for Adult Day Service programs like ours?  In Michigan, there are no licensing regulations for Adult Day programs, yet statistics support the statement that Adult Day programs offer the lowest cost and the highest value.

Now is the time for Adult Day programs to create viable partnerships with health care organizations and family medical practitioners.  The facts in the chart give some great reasons why!  It is conceivable that our organization could help save our hospital partners millions of dollars over time.

John Stauffer is the Executive Director of Helping Hands Respite Care in East Lansing, Michigan and is the current President of the Michigan Adult Day Services Association. He and several members of MADSA are working on a common language and reporting procedure to support the efficacy of Adult Day programs in Michigan.  Helping Hands Respite Care operates an Adult Day Services program with a positive track record for over 30 years. Originally established by a group of nurses, the program continues to have a staff nurse in attendance daily.