Caring for aging relatives while at work has been a perennial problem for South Florida families. The anxiety was very familiar for Miramar resident Pauline Tapper, who was forced to leave her ailing 82 year-old mother at home while she went to work in Miami.
“I was always worried, calling her hourly to check she was alright,” says Tapper.
Tapper finally found some relief when she discovered an Adult Day Care center in Hollywood – a new kind of senior care specializing in temporary, daily-time oversight. Tapper now takes “my Mother there daily. She’s cared for and interacts well with other seniors. And I no longer feel guilty or stressed to leave her at home alone.”
The concept has been expanding through Broward County, mostly recently with the City of Miramar’s upcoming 3,800 square foot facility. The planned center in Miramar is among several in South Florida that provide a new alternatives for families and caregivers seeking specialized day-care for their loved ones without resorting to nursing homes – a key need in a county with over 350,000 residents.
According to Edith Leberberg, the executive director of the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Broward County, the demand for their adult day-care centers is high, with several waiting lists to accommodate seniors over 60. The ADRC operates 10 facilities in the county, while more and more private operations are also opening in the region to serve the demand.
All are regulated by the Areawide Council on Aging (AAC) of Broward County, and Florida Department of Elder Affairs. Funding also come from these institutions, as well as Broward County Commission and local municipalities, plus voluntary donations to some centers.
Leberberg explained that through state-funding assistance, “seniors can pay for services on a sliding scale based on family income.”
The average fee is $7 per hour, but this can be significantly lower based on the client’s financial evaluation,” said Leberberg.
These are some drawbacks, however, with some financial obstacles. Tamarac resident Ossie Watts said he couldn’t afford to place his grandfather in county day-care center “because it didn’t accept Medicaid insurance.”
There are centers that don’t accept Medicaid,” said Leberberg, “but most patients should qualify under the state’s sliding scale financial program.”
Regulating this growing senior care service has been a county, particularly for private operations.
But State Representative Hazelle Rogers express confidence in the system.
“A tight regulatory and monitoring system is enforced through agencies like the Florida Department for Elder Affairs,” says Rogers. “The objective is to ensure consistent quality care for seniors trumps the nefarious actions of some people who may want to make money off of seniors.”
Rogers also notes that The Department of Elder Affairs “regularly inspects these facilities to ensure that they meet the rights, safety, health and welfare of seniors, ensuring these facilities are in compliance with the state statutes and federal laws. And in case of a breach of these laws, seniors have the legal right to file a civil suit and demand compensation.”