According to the Center for Disease Control, the majority (80%) of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are receiving care in their homes. Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias provide care for a longer duration than caregivers of people with other types of conditions (79% versus 66%). Well over half (57%) of family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias provide care for four years or more. More than six in ten (63%) Alzheimer’s caregivers expect to continue having care responsibilities for the next 5 years.
The Stress of Caregiving
A 25-year body of research (see Caregiver Assessment: Principles, Guidelines and Strategies for Change) shows that family members who provide care to persons with chronic or disabling conditions are themselves at risk. Emotional, physical and financial problems arise from the complexities and strains of caring for frail or disabled relatives, especially when the care is for a person with dementia.
Family caregivers face health risks and serious illness (e.g., heart disease, hypertension, poorer immune function, slower wound healing, emotional strain and mental health problems, especially depression). If the family caregiver becomes sick or can no longer cope with caregiving tasks, the care recipient suffers. If the strain on a caregiver becomes too great, care in the home may be seriously compromised and can lead to nursing home placement.
Relief for Caregivers
A Pennsylvania State University study found adult day care to be a very promising approach to helping family caregivers (see Stress Reduction for Family Caregivers: Effects of Adult Day Care Use). Day care services give caregivers regular time away from their care responsibilities so they can devote attention to other areas of their lives. It can help them restore the psychological and social resources necessary for their own well-being.
The study found that caregivers using adult day care for 3 months or more, resulted in lower feelings of overload, worry and strain; and, less anger and depression. Other research has shown that if caregivers can utilize just six hours of respite support two to three times a month, they can delay institutionalization of their loved ones for up to six months (see Florida Taxwatch: “Florida’s Looming Alzheimer’s Crisis”).
How Alzheimer’s Project Can Help
The Alzheimer’s Project offers facility-based respite one day a week at each of five Tallahassee and four regional sites from 9 AM until 3 PM. Our respite provides caregivers the opportunity to take care of themselves. It is free of charge, although a donation is welcomed. During this time, caregivers can feel secure knowing that their loved one is in a safe and socially engaging environment. Respite activities include arts and crafts, music therapy, pet therapy, exercise, games and much more.
Every six months, we survey caregivers who have used our respite and other services for at least six months. Four key variables that we use to analyze the benefits of our adult day respite services involve the care recipient’s welfare and the caregiver’s physical health, mental health, and help delaying institutionalization of their loved one. We examined data from 2019, which was the last time caregivers’ loved ones utilized in-person day respite for the entire 12-month period.
Our findings indicate overwhelming support for our services:
- When asked to respond to the statement, “My loved one benefits from socialization and activities at the day respite program”, all 109 caregivers (100%) indicated they agreed, and 90 of them (82.6%) strongly agreed.
- When asked “I have been able to spend more time and attention on my physical health and wellbeing”, 136 out of 145 caregivers (93.8%) agreed, and of those, 64 out of 136 (47.1%), strongly agreed.
- When asked, “I have been able to spend more time and attention on my mental health and wellbeing”, 133 out of 145 caregivers (91.7%) agreed, and of those, more than half, 69 out of 133 (51.9%), strongly agreed.
- When asked whether “Our services have supported me in delaying placement of my loved one in a facility”, 119 out of 120 caregivers (99.2%) agreed, and of those, 93 out of 119 (78.2%) strongly agreed.
If you are currently caring for a loved one and have not availed yourself of the day respite care and other services we offer, we strongly encourage you to do so. Please call us at (850) 386-2778 or browse our website, Alzheimer’s Project, for more information.