Adult day care services provide much-needed break to family caregivers

July 18, 2011

Adult day care services significantly reduce the stress levels of family caregivers of older adults with dementia, according to a team of Penn State and Virginia Tech researchers.

"Family members who care for dementia patients are susceptible to experiencing high levels of stress," said Steven Zarit, professor and head, department of human development and family studies, Penn State. "One way of alleviating that stress is through the use of an adult day care center, which allows them a predictable break from caregiving responsibilities."

Not only do caregivers benefit from using such services, but dementia patients also gain from the break. Zarit and his colleagues showed that dementia patients who attend adult day care centers have fewer behavior problems and sleep better at night.

"The changes we have seen are as large as you'd get with medication, but with no side effects," he said.

Zarit and his team evaluated the stress levels of 150 caregivers by using a 24-hour daily diary to obrain obtain baseline information prior to the use of an adult day care service. After the caregivers began the use of an adult daycare, the researchers gathered data at various times over a two-month period. The caregivers recorded entries in their diaries, both on days when their relatives went to an adult day care service and on days when their relatives stayed home. The researchers reported their results online in the Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences.

"In the diaries, we asked the caregivers to discuss their moods and the moods of their relatives, how agitated or restless their relatives were, and how many sleep disturbances their relatives had, among other topics," said Zarit.

The team's results revealed that caregivers generally reported greater levels of stress exposure prior to the use of an adult day care service and on days when their relatives did not attend adult day care programs. The team also found that behavior problems and poor sleep were more likely to occur on days when dementia patients remained at home.

Zarit and his colleagues are now studying the possible physiological effects these services can have on family caregivers. They are using stress markers, such as the stress hormone cortisol, to examine the body's response to high-stress days when relatives with dementia stay home versus low-stress ones when relatives with dementia attend adult day care centers.
-end-
Other Penn State researchers involved in the study include Kyungmin Kim, graduate student, human development and family studies; Elia Femia, research associate, human development and family studies; David Almeida, professor of human development and family studies, and Peter Molenaar, professor of human development and psychology.

Also part of the study was Jyoti Savla, assistant professor of human development and gerontology, Virginia Tech.

National Institute of Mental Health supported this work.

Penn State

Related Dementia Articles from Brightsurf:

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients
Strong sleeping pills known as 'Z-drugs' are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia, according to new research.

The long road to dementia
Alzheimer's disease develops over decades. It begins with a fatal chain reaction in which masses of misfolded beta-amyloid proteins are produced that in the end literally flood the brain.

Why people with dementia go missing
People with dementia are more likely to go missing in areas where road networks are dense, complicated and disordered - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

PTSD may double risk of dementia
People who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are up to twice as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a new study by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

Building dementia friendly churches
A project to help church communities become more 'dementia friendly' has had a significant impact across the country.

A "feeling" for dementia?
A research team led by the DZNE concludes that personal perception can be an important indicator for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

New biomarker for dementia diagnosis
Medical researchers in the UK and Australia have identified a new marker which could support the search for novel preventative and therapeutic treatments for dementia.

Digital solutions for dementia care
Telehealth delivery of dementia care in the home can be as effective as face-to-face home visit services if carers and recipients take advantage of the technologies available, Australian researchers say.

Despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050 according to new Alzheimer Europe report
Today, at a European Parliament lunch debate, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.

Read More: Dementia News and Dementia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.