The Need for Adult Day Services in La Paz, Bolivia: Perceptions of Professionals Working with Aged Adults


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Virginia Tech


This research project addressed the need for an adult day services (ADS) program in La Paz, Bolivia. Adult day services are community-based programs that provide a variety of services to functionally impaired adults through an individual plan of care. Adult day services are structured, comprehensive programs that offer services during any part of the day but fewer than 24 hours.

I examined professionals' perceptions and attitudes about the needs of old adults in La Paz and the importance and viability of implementing an ADS program to meet those needs. The political economy of aging perspective provided the theoretical framework for this study. This theory focuses on the way that values and prevalent societal attitudes influence people's views of the aged population and the type of programs they believe should be developed for the care of that population. The review of literature addresses the needs assessment process and the U.S. model for ADS. An overview of the current situation of the elderly population in La Paz is presented in order to portray the context in which new programs for seniors would be developed in that city.

Study participants, who provide a variety of services to old adults and their families in La Paz, completed interviews regarding (a) their perceptions of the needs of the old adults of La Paz, (b) the significance of developing a new program for their care, and (c) the feasibility of implementing an ADS program. I used descriptive and associational statistics to assess the attitudes and perceptions of respondents, the similarities and differences among their responses, and possible influences on their viewpoints. I extracted common themes in answers to the open-ended questions by employing qualitative techniques.

The results of the interviews revealed that although professionals perceive that societal views of old adults are very negative in La Paz, they also believe this segment of the population is in great need of services that provide better, more adequate physical, emotional, social, and medical care than the services that exist today. Professionals also believed that it is crucial to develop new programs that address these issues and they considered ADS to be a viable alternative to institutionalization. However, their ideas about the structure and activities offered by an ADS program were quite different than those of the standard U.S. model. In order for the implementation of an ADS program to be successful in Bolivia it would have to be adapted to the cultural and economic context of that country.



adult day services