Adult day care programs for people with dementia offer significant stress relief for family caregivers, who often play primary roles in managing their loved ones’ everyday lives and affairs, new research shows.
Penn State investigators who tracked the experiences of caregivers of older adults with dementia found the are far less stressed and their moods are improved on days when their loved once receive day services.
"Caregivers who live with and care for someone with dementia can experience extraordinary amounts of stress," said Steven Zarit, professor and head, human development and family studies. "The use of adult day services appears to provide caregivers with a much-needed break that can possibly protect them from the negative health effects caused by chronic stress."
The researchers conducted a series of telephone interviews with 173 family caregivers of individuals with dementia who use a service designed to provide social and some health services to adults who need supervised care outside the home during the day. On some of the interview days, the individuals with dementia attended a day care program; on others they were with their caregivers most of the day.
The results, reported in the journal The Gerontologist, found that caregivers had lower exposure to care-related stressors and more positive experiences on days when their family members with dementia used adult care services.
"Overall, our findings demonstrate that stressors on caregivers are partly lowered and mood is improved on days when their relatives attend adult day service programs, which may provide protection against the negative effects of chronic stress associated with caregiving," said Zarit.
The National Institute on Aging funded this research.
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