Adult Care in Oklahoma - The Advocate

by Ron Jackson, Staff Reporter Published: November 28, 2009
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photo - Mary Brinkley, President of Oklahoma Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, talks with legislators at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009.  By John Clanton, The Oklahoman
Mary Brinkley, President of Oklahoma Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, talks with legislators at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009. By John Clanton, The Oklahoman
Look at the big picture. In the long run, you’re saving the state money if they can go into an adult day center.

“Look at all the benefits. Families are taking responsibility for the care of their loved ones because when they leave the center, they’re going home with a family caretaker – a person who is now able to keep his or her job. It also keeps families connected.”

If the message is to gain traction, Brinkley believes it will be because of the families and clients who have benefited from adult day centers. Yet their numbers are relatively low, and according to experts, extremely deceptive.

Adult day centers statewide service a combined 1,300 clients a month, but only because most centers don’t have the money to handle more people. Clients are turned away every day and only 19 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties have an adult day center.

“Say you’re in Holdenville, holding down a full-time job and your mother gets to the point where she can’t be left home alone, and you can’t afford to quit your job,” said Lance Robertson, the DHS Aging Services Division director. “That mother is probably going to end up in a nursing home.”

Robertson estimates as much as a quarter of the state’s nursing home population might fit into this category of “pre-institutionalization.”

“Their numbers might be small right now,” Brinkley said of the adult day center population. “But they have a powerful story to tell.”

There are presently 4,600 adult day centers nationwide. Studies have shown there is a need for more than 10,000, Brinkley said. She wonders what will happen in 20 years when Oklahoma’s senior population more than doubles in size.

“Look, there’s only so much money in the pot,” Brinkley said. “I understand that. We’re not gonna get through this thing without some pain. But people are gonna have to start re-defining their priorities because the elderly population in this state is about to go through the roof, and if we start letting these programs collapse, where is that gonna leave us in the future?

“As a state, we’re gonna have to decide whether we want to build that new bridge, or that new road, or if we’re gonna take care of those seniors who took care of us all those years. What’s it gonna be?”



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