Published in Brevard County Women Newspaper July 2007

What Every Caregiver Should Know

   I recently read about two studies that were conducted that concluded February of this year, in the first study, one group of seniors, home bound with the normal socializations church, visits with family and friends and regular doctor visits. The second group socialized in senior centers and day programs along with the usual socialization found at home, concluded the homebound group developed Alzheimer's and Dementia 2 to1.

   In the second study, the first group was put on a regular exercise program. The second group did what was normally done at home. This study concluded, the progression of Alzheimer's and Dementia actually slowed down in the group provided with a regular exercise routine.

   The point I think these studies make is, sitting in front of the TV and commenting on whatís on in between naps, a weekly visit to church, the store and family and friends visiting is not enough socialization or mental and physical stimulation for care receivers. Care receivers have the need to be with their peers, the need to talk of life experiences they have in common with one another and they need regular exercise, mental stimulation and socialization that the home environment canít provide. These things are a small part of what we do in Senior Day Programs.

   You actually can exercise the mind. Word games used in senior day programs, even if the answers arenít known by the day program member, thinking about what the answer could be exercises the mind. The reminiscing activities jog the memory, all helping in most cases to improve mental capacity. The exercise programs keep in tact and in most cases improve strength and balance making the member less prone to falls, broken bones, hospital stays, and nursing home rehabs that many care receivers never return from.

   In another study care receivers involved in day programs had less infections, less doctor visits, fewer falls and fewer hospital stays than those that are not involved.

   What adult day programs do is keep care receivers home with loved ones and out of nursing homes as long as possible, in most cases never to enter one. We do that by providing mental, physical and social stimulation. We also allow the caregiver the luxury of taking care of everyday responsibilities and yes, if you have ever been a caregiver, you know it can be a luxury just to be able to do the laundry without interruption.

    Nothing sounds sweeter to my ears than to hear a caregiver talk of the improvement in their loved one and their improved sleep pattern since attending the day program. If the loved one is stimulated during the day they will sleep at night, AND SO CAN THE CAREGIVER!

   Do you have a question or concern, call me, Stephanie Licavoli owner All One Family Senior Day Program 321-453-6577