ADULT DAY: Facility Helps Older Iowans

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Taking care of a spouse or parent can be tough, especially while you're also working or taking care of kids. Older Iowans wanting to live at home have an option that helps them stay social, and gives their caregivers a break. A program recently expanded to help more people, and a study shows the metro needs more places like it.

David Haraldson is taking a reading break at the Adult Day Center on WesleyLife’s Wesley Acres campus in Des Moines. It's also a break for his wife Shirley Haraldson. She says, "David had a stroke in November 2011."

After the stroke, Mrs. Haraldson started caring for her husband of 55 years full time. She says, "It became a little difficult at times, so that's when I started looking to see if I could get assistance."

Haraldson started bringing David to The Adult Day Center in Des Moines last May. She says, "It was an adjustment at first for both of us. I felt guilty, I'm sure as a spouse, but then as I became a little more rested and refreshed, I knew it was something that really had to be done."

Mr. Haraldson now comes to the center two times a week. A month ago, the group moved to a new space. It’s 6,000 square feet complete with a kitchen, two-sided fireplace, library and fitness area. It's now called the W.T. and Edna Dahl Adult Day Center.

Director Denice Gienapp says the expansion created room for 60 participants a day, double from before. Gienapp says, "Our goal was also to add some features that we weren't able to have before."

She goes on to say, "We're growing to meet the needs." Only two adult day centers serve Polk County, but a 2002 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows the county could use five facilities. Gienapp says, "We know that the baby boomer population is increasing people's desire to stay home as long as they can is certainly a priority for folks, and also the cost of long term care."

Gienapp says it costs $56 a day for a participant. She says that’s a third of what people would pay for assisted living. Mrs. Haraldson says, "I can just tell you from experience that after a day of him being here, and me having a day of freedom, it's much easier for us when we return home because we are both refreshed."

Gienapp says funding is available to help participants attend the Adult Day Center. Medicaid waivers will cover the cost, along with some long term care insurance plans. She says The Veteran's Administration will pay for two days a week. And, some aging resources scholarships are available.

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