When you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, your life doesn’t begin and end with that huge responsibility. You also have doctors’ appointments and meetings. You need to shop for groceries, get your hair cut and have the car serviced. You may even have a 9 to 5 job. But your most critical need of all is time away from our loved one, simply to relax, regroup and recharge.
If you’ve tapped out all your family, friends and neighbors for support during these times, you still have an option that doesn’t involve moving your loved one to a long-term care facility: adult day centers.
What is an adult day center?
It’s a non-residential facility that can shoulder the responsibility of caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementias* while you go to work, run errands or just take a break. These centers are typically open during normal business hours and accept seniors from a few days a week to Monday through Friday.
Will my mom or dad enjoy it?
While these centers strive to take a load off caregivers—if only for the day—their primary focus is the individual with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. According to Lisa Brinkley, owner of Beechwell Adult Day Program in Richmond, Virginia, “Adult day programs provide seniors with valuable opportunities for socialization, recreation and engagement in a safe environment.”
At Beechwell, seniors participate in crafts, gardening, playing the piano or a game of pool, exercising, all while interacting with others. (If seniors prefer some alone time, Beechwell has rooms where they can also get away from the activity.) There’s even a simulated office with a typewriter and a telephone. As Brinkley explains it, if a senior has any reluctance about an adult day program, believing they’re going to work sometimes makes it easier to get them into a routine of going.
Will my spouse be well taken care of?
But activities and socialization are just the half of it. These centers also provide meals and snacks as well as personal care assistance (toileting, eating, etc.). They may also offer medication management, health services, and in some cases, physical, occupational and speech therapy.
A well-run adult day center will also work with loved ones to get to know the senior as an individual and tailor its companionship and care to what he or she needs every minute of the day.
“We don’t just admit the client; we admit the family,” says Brinkley, whose adult day program provides daily updates to caregivers and helps them understand changes in behavior and the progression of the disease.
*These centers typically do not limit their care to seniors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.