A Change of Pace for Caregivers and Their Loved Ones with Dementia

Last winter, I toured a daytime activity center for adults with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, who live at home but need constant supervision.  Now that I have seen the operation in action, I can’t think of a better way for family caregivers to provide their parent or spouse with a stimulating home-away-from-home where they will fit in.  At the same time, the center gives caregivers a much needed break and peace of mind because their loved one is being cared for in a safe and structured environment.

The non-profit initiative is appropriately called Change of Pace and is operated four days a week, between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm, by Sebring Christian Church, in Sebring Florida.  Since Change of Pace is licensed as a social center and not a health care provider, the volunteer Registered Nurse encourages families to have any scheduled home health care nurse appointments at their facility, rather than delayed.  The RN can, however, give attendees their medications.

Soon after I arrived, I met a woman who was bringing in her husband for the day.  She said that the Alzheimer’s day care is great for both her and her husband.  She gets a break from her caregiving duties and “they do things at Change of Pace that I wouldn’t have time to do with my husband at home.”  Her spouse appeared to be enthusiastic about spending the day there.  Cora Schwingel, the Administrator, remarked that clients who come at least two days a week have improved communications skills because they speak to many more people than they would at home.

Clients are treated to a variety of activities that are specially designed to keep them active and stimulate their minds and primary senses of seeing, hearing, touching and tasting.  Activities include arts and crafts, baking, listening to music, light exercise, gardening, putting on an artificial golf green, watching old movies and playing games, such as bingo.  There are opportunities to socialize with others or have some one-on-one time with the staff.  As well, there is a lounge with reclining chairs for attendees to have a nap in the afternoon if they wish.

Adult day care for people with dementia exists in Canada too, although not everywhere.  It would be worth a call to your local chapter of the Alzheimer Society to determine if there is one close to where you live.  If there is, it would improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and those who care for them.

By Shirley Roberts, Author of Doris Inc.:  A Business Approach to Caring for Your Elderly Parents

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