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How Adult Day Services (ADS) can help someone with dementia

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Adult Day Services (ADS) can benefit both caregiver and care recipient.
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A dementia diagnosis doesn’t automatically mean packing your loved one’s bags and moving them into a nursing facility. Many older adults are being cared for at home and having dementia doesn’t have to change that decision.

In fact, an Adult Day Services (ADS) program can help make this a reality while benefiting both the care recipient and the family caregiver. What are Adult Day Services (ADS)? ADS are offered at a location that is typically open during daytime hours and provides activities for older adults and those with developmental disabilities who are unable to be left alone without some type of supervision.

Programs provide a structured environment that includes activities and social interaction. Some programs have music therapy, craft projects and social groups as well as offering a noon meal and transportation. They also provide a break for the caregiver with the confidence that their loved one is in good hands. Benefits to the Caregiver ADS programs offer numerous benefits for both the caregiver and care recipient. Providing care for someone can be very stressful. Often a family caregiver is also working and/or raising children while caring for an older adult. An ADS program is a safe environment for the senior and it allows both the caregiver and recipient to get a break from one another. The caregiver can use this time to simply relax, run errands or do something for themselves. Many caregivers use an Adult Day Program while they are at work.

Different programs even offer bathing services and/or other personal care options, which can be a benefit to both the caregiver and the care recipient.

“We had an elderly wife who was caring for her husband. She enjoyed the respite the adult day provided, but seriously began to think about placement in a nursing home because she could not get him to take a shower,” said Kendra Schumaker, Executive Director at SarahCare Adult Day Services. “Our staff offered to shower him while he was here during the day, but his wife was reluctant, thinking that he would not be agreeable. She agreed to let us give it a try, and when she came to pick him up she had tears of joy because he was clean and they would not have to fight about it at home.”

“Part of what adult day does is let people return to their previous life roles. In other words the wife can now be the wife and not the nursemaid, caregiver, etc. They can go home, have dinner, and she can be assured that her husband is not only clean, but he did not fall in the shower at home,” says Shumaker.

Benefits to the Care Recipient

While at an Adult Day Program, the care recipient is able to enjoy a wide variety of structured activities that they may not be able to do while at home. Participants benefit from additional socialization and often form strong relationships with other participants and staff.

“We have an amazing staff that really bonds with our seniors,” says Teresa Schlump, Director at Side by Side Adult Day Services. “This helps the older adult feel more confident because coming to the center is like spending time with friends. It also makes it easier for the caregiver because it’s an enjoyable experience for their loved one.”

Sign Me Up! What do I do?

The best way to get started is to take time to visit an ADS program. Schedule a tour and talk with the Director or other staff. Some ADS programs even allow interested families to try the service out for a day (at little or no cost) to make sure it’s a good fit.

Because each location offers different activities and services, individuals need to contact the organization directly to find out about costs and qualifications. The Kent County Senior Millage may help offset the cost for families with lower incomes.

For more information, including costs and how to qualify under the Kent County Senior Millage, contact one of the Adult Day Centers listed below. Who to Contact:

•CareTree Adult Day Services (operated by Gerontology Network)(616) 464-3665

•Side by Side Adult Day Services (operated by Hope Network)(616) 235-2910

•SarahCare Adult Day Services (616) 530-6700

For more information on older adult services, including the Kent County Senior Millage, contact the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at (616) 456-5664 or visit

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