by Carol Higgins Taylor
Eastern Area Agency on Aging
Caregiving is challenging in the best of circumstances but caring for someone with dementia is a special kind of stress. Getting a break from the responsibilities is critical. Fortunately there is a way to relieve some of the strain, a few hours at a time.
Adult day programs offer seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease social interaction and ensure that they be mentally engaged at their individual skill level. They’ll also have fun which is a gift. While the seniors are otherwise engaged, the caregiver is enjoying some much needed personal time.
“Many seniors are resistant to attending adult day programs at first, but once they go, most love it and wonder why they didn’t do it sooner,” said Josephine Cirrinone, senior care coordinator at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. “These community-based programs are designed for older adults with thinking, memory and physical impairments. These services also provide family caregivers with respite.”
Comprehensive adult day services, depending on whether they are a social or medical model, provide a safe, protective setting. In a medical model, participants receive health monitoring by trained staff and other support services. In a social model, this may not be available. But in both models, attendees enjoy social activities, nutritious meals and snacks designed to meet their specific dietary needs.
“Some people are unaware of the high level of sophistication of the service and care provided by adult day services,” Cirrinone said. “These programs help keep individuals who need chronic care at home out in the community, with family and friends for as long as possible. Some clients have shown mild improvement in their conditions due to the social stimulation and change of scene.”
Adult day services generally operate Monday through Friday but some have Saturday hours. Fees vary depending on the program and services provided.
So, how do you find an adult day program that’s right for your situation?
Cirrinone offers a few questions to ask when inquiring about a facility:
• Does staff prepare individualized assessments of each new client?
• Are medications administered, in a medical model?
• Does the center provide a variety of interesting social activities?
• Are staff members trained in emergency procedures?
• Are there staff members who specialize in working with clients with dementia and memory loss?
• Does the facility have a sprinkler system?
• Is transportation provided to and from the center?
• Is the center clean, well maintained and free of odors?
Ask staff to see latest inspection results or state survey, and as for overall quality, look for a caring and concerned staff, happy, active participants and a welcoming feeling for the caregiver.
For information on adult day services and other questions that should be asked, call Eastern Area Agency on Aging.
“Families can take comfort in the knowledge that the person in their care is being well cared for and enjoying themselves,” said Cirrinone.
There are stress relieving properties, she added, because caregivers can take some time doting on themselves for a change. Respite care can prevent caregivers from burning out. Caring for yourself can be the best gift you give your loved one. Being at your best ensures them your best care.
Circle May 8 on your calendar if you or someone you love is experiencing early memory loss or early dementia. “Losing your Memory? Now What? A Day of Information and Resources,” will be held 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., at My Friend’s Place Adult Day, First United Methodist Church, 703 Essex St., Bangor.
Early memory loss and early dementia can be a frightening experience. The free workshop can help by providing valuable insight and support with a focus on planning ahead. For information or to register, call Karyn at Eastern Area Agency on Aging at 941-2865.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.