Senior Day Care for Alzheimer’s Patients


By Bob Kohut

In the not too distant past there was no such thing as senior day care for Alzheimer’s patients.  The only options available were confining the Alzheimer’s patient to a residential treatment facility or taking care of the patient at home.

Home care was not an attractive option for either the patient or the caregiver.  In the earlier stages of the disease mental stimulation can actually help and day after day interaction with few people beyond the caregiver provided minimal stimulation.

But with people living longer and longer and the cost of residential facilities skyrocketing adult day care centers are popping up everywhere.  Some specialize in treating Alzheimer’s patients and provide significant benefits, especially in those early days of the disease.

At a senior day center for Alzheimer’s patients there are stimulating activities throughout the day, geared towards the cognitive capability of the patient.  It is an opportunity for them to see new faces and interact with others in situations similar to their own.  Both speech and physical therapies are also offered.  Evidence suggests these kinds of treatments in the early stages slow down the progress of the disease.

Some senior day care centers only accept patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s while others are equipped to take care of patients even in advanced stages.  Some accept state and federal funding and reduced fees may be available.  Ideally you would want to be able to keep your senior in the same place, although in the advanced stages it is questionable how much benefit the patient is actually getting beyond safety and physical care.  The benefits to the caregiver, however, are enormous at all stages of the disease.

Taking care of any senior day in and day out is a taxing task for anyone; the stress of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient can lead to untold problems.  We have all heard stories on the nightly news urging listeners to be on the look out for an elderly senior with advanced Alzheimer’s who somehow managed to slip out of their homes unnoticed.

While the patient may be returned with little harm beyond the physical effects of exposure, the toll on the caregiver can be devastating.  Many caregivers are reluctant to seek help from other family members who are willing to give them a little break.  The caregiver may take some time off, only to discover they can’t enjoy themselves as they are in constant worry that their substitute may not be up to the task.

This kind of unending stress can create emotional problems not only for the caregiver, but for all who reside in the home.  Indeed, the very physical health of caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients is at risk.

In today’s difficult economic times the cost of the daycare may be an issue, but what of the cost to the health and well being of the caregiver?  Some senior day care centers for Alzheimer’s patients offer fees based on a sliding income scale.  To help find a center in your area, an organization called the National Adult Day Services Association has a locator function.  You can visit their website at: