Study: Adult Day Care Services Reduce Stress For Family Caregivers Of Adults With Dementia

Not only do caregivers benefit from using such services, but dementia patients also gain from the break. Zarit and his colleagues showed that dementia patients who attend adult day care centers have fewer behavior problems and sleep better at night.”The changes we have seen are as large as you’d get with medication, but with no side effects,” he said.

A recent study provided 150 caregivers in New Jersey who care for people with dementia with 24-hour daily diaries and assessed their stress levels prior to their use of adult day care services.  The care recipients attended the centers for an average of six hours a day for three days a week, with average activities including 30 minutes of physical activity, one-two hours of social activity, and one hour of activities focused on cognitive stimulation.  At the beginning of the study, caregivers reported an average of two hours a day of behavior issues, but during the study, this number decreased significantly on days that the care receiver attended the adult day program.  During the first month, behavior problems reduced to 75 minutes, and during the second month, 52 minutes.  The authors note that this effect is driven in part because the person with dementia is at the day program (so the caregiver wouldn’t experience the behavior problems), but also note that sleeping problems and behavior problems at home were reduced on days when the person attended the day care center.  In contrast to past studies, their results indicate that the adult day care center didn’t just “shift” stressors from one part of the day to another, but actually reduced stress and is an effective way to provide respite.

For the full article visit:

Penn State Press Release: “Adult day care services provide much-needed break to family caregivers”

The Journals of Gerontology: Series B Advance Access: “Effects of Adult Day Care on Daily Stress of Caregivers: A Within-Person Approach” (Abstract is free)  

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