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Senior day programs offer support to caregivers and participants.

Senior Day Programs offer support for home caregivers

Senior Day programs offer support and peace of mind for those caring for their loved ones at home and provide safe, supportive and engaging environments for people living with dementia.

“One in nine people aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, and 80 percent are receiving care in their homes provided by informal caregivers,” said Heather Macchietto, director of the James L. West Center for Dementia Care Senior Day Program. 

Unlike caregivers with loved ones living with other health conditions, those caring for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia are at greater risk for anxiety and depression and have a lower quality of life due to isolation.

James L. West’s Senior Day Program specializes in providing care to individuals in the early to middle stages of dementia. As a licensed adult day care center through the state of Texas, the program offers peace of mind for caregivers who are caring at home  for a loved one who can no longer be left alone.

“All of our participants are older adults who have dementia,” Macchietto said. “We’re not trying to take the place of a nursing home, but to fill in the gap between diagnosis and full-time nursing care.”

She said she believes the strength of James L. West’s program is that all the participants are having the same experience. They all come in the morning and leave at the end of the day. 

Senior day programs offer support to participants

Individuals in the early to middle stages of dementia who should not be left home alone are good candidates for the Senior Day Program. 

“The day program allows people who would love to care for their loved one at home, keep them at home with them, but have some time of their own during the day,” said Dr. Cheryl Harding, PhD, president and CEO at James L. West. 

The individual may need assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as fastening or unfastening a belt before or after using the restroom, dressing, dressing appropriately for the weather, getting shoes on the right feet, or assistance with toileting. 

Most often, the individual is no longer able to prepare a meal, and may forget to warm up or eat a meal. They are often confused about time and day and may lose items. 

Participating in a day program, where they experience cognitive stimulation, seated and physical activities and social interactions can help participants maintain those abilities for longer. 

“We really work hard every day to highlight their abilities, help them to be engaged with people like themselves and just have joy every day,” Harding said.

The daily routine, designed to follow typical patterns of movement, social interaction and physical activity, provides stability and routine.

Participants socialize with one another, complete purposeful tasks and activities and make decisions for themselves. Through getting to know each day program participant, the activity team plans and adapts activities to the interests and abilities of the participants.

“We want them to go home at the end of the day, tired from being engaged all day and satisfied that they served a purpose every day,” Harding said.

Senior day programs offer support for caregivers

Senior day programs aren’t just for the participants. Caregivers experience many benefits as well. Peace of mind tops the list as caregivers can rest easy that their loved one is being well cared for.

“That support for the caregiver is so important,” Harding said. “The wonderful thing about the day program is that it really is an as-you-need-it kind of program.”

Because the participant and the caregiver are both more active physically and socially, they may experience a reduction in anxiety or depression. Participants often sleep better at the end of the day, allowing the caregiver to get more sleep as well. 

While day programs don’t provide skilled nursing care, they can monitor vitals and administer medications with a doctor’s order. They also provide families with another set of eyes trained to notice symptoms or changes that family members may not notice.

Senior day services are typically private pay and are less expensive than in-home care.  Some long-term care insurance policies may reimburse policy holders for the service, and if the participant is a veteran or on Medicaid, there may be benefits available as well. 

Experience the James L. West Senior Day Program

Families are encouraged to check out the Senior Day Program and bring their loved one to experience the activities and programming and meet the staff. 

“We welcome families to visit and see what it’s like,” Macchietto said. “It’s never too early to start having honest conversations about your loved one’s needs.”

Macchietto said families often question whether their loved one needs to be in a day program.

“If you’re calling me, if you’re searching for help, it’s because you already know you need some help,”  she said.

Often, the adjustment to the day program is more difficult for the caregiver than it is for the participant. Typically, within 10 minutes, new participants have joined others in the current activity.

To help caregivers with the adjustment, she suggests starting with a shorter day, dropping a loved one off a little later and picking them up a little earlier to start out. 

Check out our Senior Day Program page to learn more or contact us to schedule a visit and experience the program for yourself.