More middle-aged children now find themselves the guardians of those who raised them, turning their parents over to trained caregivers at "adult day care" centers.
Day services provide a needed break for families of elderly, mostly with some form of dementia who don't require a full-time nursing home but can't be left alone.
The daily activities include:
" arts and crafts,
" sing-alongs and
" visits from petting zoo animals.
Adult day care facilities are popping up across Oklahoma and the country to serve this growing group. An estimated 3,407 centers were operating in 2002, serving approximately 129,500 people, according to a study done for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
More than 25 percent of those had opened within the previous five years. Even then, the report estimated a need for 5,415 more centers to care for up to 205,770 more people.
Bill Weaver, president of Daily Living Centers in Oklahoma City, is seeing growth constantly at his facility.
"The older generation is coming soon," Weaver said. "In the Eighties, there were only seven or eight (adult day cares) in the state. When I came 20 years ago, there were only about 15 participants per day. Now, we're up to 135 per day."
Today, there are 40 licensed adult day cares in the state, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. "Lauren Hopkins