New study shows adult day services benefit caregivers, dementia patients

June 6, 2013

Grafton, Wis. - Family caregivers of older adults with dementia are “less stressed and their moods improved” on days when dementia patients receive adult day services, according to studies recently conducted by Penn State University and the National Institute on Aging.

Adult Day Service provides social and health services to adults who need supervised care outside of the home during the day. They also offer caregivers a break that the Penn State study shows they probably need - but are in many cases hesitant to take advantage of.

“People often don’t identify themselves as a caregiver,” said Kathy Glaser, Manager of Luther Manor Lakefield Adult Day Services in Grafton. “They say ‘I’m a wife or a son not a caregiver’ and minimize the impact that the increased needs of their loved one has had on their own health and life. Caregiving can be very isolating so seeking assistance is daunting.”

For Rita Burfeind of Grafton, it wasn’t until a health crisis in her own life two years ago that she started bringing her dementia afflicted husband Bob to Lakefield Adult Day Services. Lakefield Adult Day Service is operated out of St. John Lutheran Church and one of two Luther Manor Adult Day Service locations. The other is based in Wauwatosa.

“When people talked about the possibility of taking my husband for adult day services initially I totally resisted the idea,” she said. “I didn’t need it, I could handle Bob myself, I didn’t want to spend the money - my reasons went on and on.”

In addition to being full-time caretaker to her husband of 54 years, Rita became responsible for managing every aspect of their home life.

“All of it wore me down and eventually my body would break down to the point of where I needed to go to a health care facility,” Burfeind said. “What I now realize is that all of my ER visits and hospital stays were a direct result of the stress I was having related to caring for my husband who was gradually losing his mental ability.”

Typically Bob spends three days a week at Lakefield Adult Day Services. The emphasis at Luther Manor’s day services programs is learning, growth and engagement.

“The clients begin to have a reason to get up and dressed,” said Luther Manor Adult Day Services Director Beth Meyer-Arnold. “They meet new friends and have opportunities to learn and experience new things. For so long, they may have felt lost and grieving their contributions to a family, or to their self care. Now they can share with others and learn to regain some of their independence when they are with peers.”

While Bob is at Lakefield, Rita pays bills, writes, reads, or sometimes naps. Once a month she attends a writer’s group and she also facilitates a breast cancer support group.

“I am so happy I can take Bob to the adult day center where I know he will be cared for and I can get some relief from the constant pressure of watching him,” Burfeind said.

But adult day services is more than just a break for Burfeind, it’s also a support system.

“They listen and often give me advice on how to handle a new dilemma,” Burfeind said. “It lightens my load and I leave with new strength to carry on.”

For more information about Luther Manor Lakefield Adult Day Services, call (262) 377-9780.

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