'An Adult Day Care on Every Corner:' Aging in the Rio Grande Valley

In a region where most people “age in place,” facilities offering services and socialization give primary caregivers a much-needed break.
January 15, 2018, 9am PST | Katharine Jose
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As America ages, and older Americans are increasingly uninterested in (or unable to afford) the traditional nursing home, more and more Americans are trying to understand how to make “aging in place” a viable alternative.

In the Rio Grande Valley, one incongruously popular solution is “adult day care.”

In a piece for the Texas Observer, Daniel Blue Tyx reports that there are twice as many of these facilities in the handful of counties that comprise the Valley than there are in Houston, Dallas, and Austin—combined.

"There’s a running joke in the Valley that you can find an adult day care on every street corner," Tyx writes, a phenomenon he calls "part culture, part economic."

The Rio Grande Valley does not have a particularly large share of seniors, but it does have a "persistently high poverty rate" and a population that is 90 percent Hispanic and “more likely than Anglos to live at home with their children or other family members.”

“Adult day cares like those in the Valley can offer a kind of middle way between round-the-clock care by family caregivers — who frequently burn out and experience physical and mental problems themselves — and expensive, sometimes impersonal nursing home care.”

The centers Tyx profiles provide everything from exercise programs to shopping trips to social opportunities, and for the most part, it’s paid for by Medicare.

"Nationally, the number of adult day care participants has increased 63 percent since 2002, even as nursing home occupancy has flatlined. If this trend continues, the Valley today may offer a glimpse at what health care for older Americans will look like in the future."

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Published on Monday, January 8, 2018 in The Texas Observer
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