Adult day care provides necessary relief to caregivers, allowing them to work, run errands, spend more time with family, or simply decompress. However, when Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia is a factor, caregivers tend to be more concerned about the ability of their elderly loved ones to attend an adult day care center. There are, thankfully, adult day care facilities that offer specialized services for cognitively impaired seniors.
Adult day care centers that specialize in dementia care offer a variety of benefits to both dementia patients and their family caregivers.
Seniors can go to these centers during the day because they provide close supervision and a safe, stimulating environment. Due to wandering, forgetfulness, and other challenging behaviors, many dementia patients cannot be left at home unattended. This places family caregivers in a tough situation, particularly if outside assistance is limited and/or they continue to work. Typically, dementia programs at adult day centers employ security measures to prevent wandering and enhanced staffing ratios to assure elders' safety and immediate satisfaction of their needs. This gives dementia caregivers essential free time and peace of mind.
Middle- to late-stage dementia patients frequently require encouragement and supervision to initiate and finish even the most basic daily chores and recreational activities. However, this problem does not prevent older adults from desiring to be physically active or to feel valuable. Adult day centers offer a variety of activities for participants, many of which can be altered to increase enjoyment and minimize irritation. Numerous common activities include arts and crafts, movie showtimes, board and card games, music therapy, exercise routines, reminiscence discussions, cooking, and charity work. Many centers also hold Christmas parties and other social events.
Depending on the level of care provided by a day care, staff may offer assistance with personal care and activities of daily living, such as feeding, bathing, toileting, and incontinence care. Some facilities also offer health services, such as medication management, occupational and physical therapy, preventative health screenings, and assistance with care coordination between physicians, family members, and other care providers. Keep in mind, however, that even the highest levels of adult day care are not designed for those who require 24-hour care. At some point, a senior's requirements will exceed what adult day care can give.
Additionally, transportation to and from the center may be available for an additional charge. The majority of adult day care centers also offer nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day.
Respite is one of the biggest benefits of adult day care for caregivers. Adult day programs enable family caregivers to spend time away from their senior loved ones without being concerned about their safety or mental health. The vast majority of caregivers lack the time, energy, and external support to continue working, hang out with friends, and care for their own physical and mental health.
Most believe they must choose between having their own lives and caring for their elderly loved ones at home, yet adult day care helps to bridge this gap. Adult day programs allow family caregivers to take care of themselves while their loved ones receive professional care. Utilizing these services can reduce the load on caregivers and delay a senior's placement in a facility for long-term care.
Finding care options for a loved one with dementia is a particularly difficult task. Each patient with dementia is unique, and each community's respite care options and supportive services vary substantially. So, how can a caregiver determine whether or not to consider adult day care for a loved one? Several factors can impact this choice.
First, it is essential to take the senior's personality into account. Have they generally had an active and social lifestyle? Recently, do they appear bored, uninterested, or uninspired? Depression and social isolation are common among dementia patients. They find it increasingly difficult to communicate with others and participate in activities they once enjoyed. Reintroducing fresh and appropriate possibilities to meet these basic human needs can profoundly affect the disposition of an elderly person.
On the other hand, some senior citizens appreciate their isolation and quiet time. The activity level of adult day care is not necessarily ideal for everyone. For instance, an outgoing and active senior may benefit from attending a day center for a few hours each weekday, whereas an introverted and low-key elder may benefit from the same services but only one day per week.
Individual day care providers accessible in your town will also impact your decision. Greater alternatives for respite care are typically available in larger cities with higher elder populations than in smaller towns and rural locations. While dementia is becoming more widespread, it may be difficult to locate specialized programs in some areas. This may not be a concern during the early stages of the disease, but as a senior's health worsens and their behavioral symptoms and confusion grow, it becomes increasingly necessary that the staff at adult day care facilities be trained in dementia care practices.
Check out this article to determine the emergency care options for dementia patients at home.
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.