Caring for someone who’s living with dementia is all about balance. For you, the caregiver, you need to be able to dedicate yourself to all your patient’s needs, while at the same time trying to find a way to keep yourself healthy, plus physically and emotionally rested.
As for your loved one, you need to discover a balance that keeps him or her in a daily routine, making sure he or she stays socially active. These two things are extremely important in keeping your loved one’s dementia symptoms at bay.
If you have an adult daycare program in your area (and I truly dislike using the word “daycare” with regarding to adults) you would want to do the enrollment early, before he or she becomes too far advanced in dementia. If you wait too long, adaption to this new agenda might be beyond feasibility.
Here in the Hernando County area, Catholic Charities has a great adult respite program that is designed especially for those living with dementia. I have personally sat in and watched their daily procedures and can honestly say I was remarkably impressed. I immediately sensed a jubilant spirit and a good-natured attitude throughout the room the entire time I was there at Catholic Charities.
These folks were actually having a festive day. They started off their group session with exercising both abilities—cognitive and physical. First off was tossing around a beach ball, known as the “Icebreaker,” that’s covered with a variety of trivia questions to help stimulate one’s mind. One of the simple queries, for example, was “Name some circus animals.” In amusement I listened to them shout out answers such as deer, and elephants with one gentleman loudly counterblasting “skunk.” I never thought of a skunk as a performance animal, but that’s not the point, is it? What I heard the most of was sweet laughter and comical wise cracks.
Catholic Charities has a small fee of only twenty dollars per session which is held between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm., Monday–Thursday. I don’t know of anywhere else you can find such a fantastic program for your loved one, that costs only five dollars an hour.
Gary Chapman, the director of the program, had me to come out and do a dementia care seminar for his dedicated volunteers. I love the fact that these charities folks are devoted to making sure that everyone working on their program is knowledgeable of and updated on friendly dementia care.
I know as a caregiver, those four hours of respite would have done me wonders. I could have run the errands I never found the time for, or I could ave just gone back home and crawled back into my bed for some desperately needed sleep.
Catholic Charities is affiliated with United Way and has run this respite program in our area since 1999; it is open to the public regardless of what your religious preference is.
For more information on the program call (800) 242-9012.
Similar adult daycare programs are popping up in most communities these days. Do your research and find out what is available to you in your area. Try to find a program that specializes in dementia to better fit your loved one’s need. This is a way to get some much-needed respite all caregivers truly require.