No matter how great a caregiver you are for someone with Alzheimer's, eventually you’re going to need a break. Sometimes, a nearby family member or friend can step in while you run errands or get some exercise. But in other cases, adult day care may be the way to go.
These programs offer safe places for older adults to socialize, join in activities, and get medical or rehabilitation services if they need them. Many centers serve a broad range of clients, while others focus on specific disorders such as Alzheimer's.
Sundowning, or sundown syndrome, affects some people who have Alzheimer's disease and dementia. People with dementia who "sundown" get confused and agitated as the sun goes down -- and sometimes through the night.
Sundowning may prevent people with dementia from sleeping well. It may also make them more likely to wander. Due to the stress it puts on caregivers, sundowning is a common cause of caregiver burnout.
Your loved one can go to day care during daytime hours and come home for the night. For many families, the programs are a way to give caregivers a break while helping their loved ones stay in their homes and keep some of their independence for as long as possible.
Some centers offer only adult day-care services, but you can also find programs at another type of care facility, such as a nursing home or assisted-living residence.
Adult day care services usually include:
Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
Social activities, like crafts, music, movies, and community projects
Transportation, support, and help with personal care like bathing, eating, dressing, and grooming
Medical services from health care professionals, including registered nurses and therapists
How to Choose a Day Care
Find the centers that offer adult day care in your area. Local churches and senior centers may have a list of nearby programs. You can also check with assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.
Find out about the center's application process, who they serve, and take a look at sample menus and activity calendars.
Once you’ve done some basic research, there are a few things to consider:
How long the program has been open
Who owns or sponsors it
When they’re open
How much does it cost?
Will insurance cover it?
If they offer transportation to and from the center
The best way to know what a day care is like is to see it in person. Schedule a tour of the center for yourself and your loved one. Some things to keep in mind as you visit:
Is the staff friendly?
Does the center look and smell clean?
Is there a place for people to go when they’re sick?
What kind of licensing or credentials do the staff have?
Do volunteers help out?
What is the staff-to-client ratio? (Six clients per staff member is good).