Caring for a loved one with a progressive neuro-cognitive disease, such as Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia is invariably overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. As the brain becomes more damaged and the person’s cognitive functioning declines, their loved one (care partner) has to take on more of the day-to-day tasks and obligations. While tasks were previously divided among the couple (or dyad), care partners now have to increasingly take on the other’s share, often with much difficulty. Even more importantly, the emotional impact of gradually losing a loved one who is still physically there but changing so profoundly, can become so stressful and heart-wrenching that the care partner often becomes overwhelmed, burned out, depressed and even ill. Additionally, the physical and emotional challenges combined with the social stigma surrounding cognitive impairment invariably leads to isolation. The world becomes smaller, friends and family often pull back, activities they once shared and enjoyed are no longer possible, and people find themselves caught in a downward spiral.
One important way to relieve isolation, bolster connection to meaningful activities, and gain respite is to enroll the person with cognitive impairment in an Adult Day Program. Adult Day centers offer engaging programs, a peer group, meals and supervision while allowing respite for the care partner. Many are reimbursed by Medicaid and others run on a private pay basis.
Unfortunately, many families aren’t eligible for Medicaid and for most of these, the fees for private pay programs are cost prohibitive. Adult Day Care is not covered by medical insurance, and most people do not have long term care insurance. Cost usually ranges from $50-$150/day. In addition, many persons with dementia become anxious when separated from their loved one and placed in an unfamiliar environment, so Adult Day Care is often not even an option due to separation anxiety. The Cooperative Adult Day Program (CADP) model addresses these issues:
*With the participation of care partners in the daily operation of the Program, cost for enrollment can be reduced by needing to hire less paid staff.
*The presence and engagement of the care partner will provide encouragement for the person with cognitive impairment. At this stage, transitioning to an unfamiliar surrounding can prove too daunting and is often met with strong resistance. The presence and participation of the care partner will help participants transition.
*Engagement in the program will support the development of connections between all participants, and create a sense of community as symptoms evolve and care needs increase.
*Early engagement in stimulating and socially engaging programming will support mood and brain health in all participants.
*The care partners will receive their training and skill building in preparation of their contribution as facilitators, so they will be better able to adjust to the changes in their loved one, and meet their needs. Subsequently, the positive atmosphere of the CADP will be extended into home life.
*Care partners will benefit from a growing confidence in their skill set and the support from their peers. They will have a chance to connect with others in a similar situation, and find common ground and understanding.
*CADP programming helps to relieve isolation, increase skill and resilience, creates awareness, enhances quality of life, and relieves the stigma of living with dementia.
*Involving care partners in this way, arms them with knowledge and support throughout the journey, and allows programming to be offered in a way that is more affordable for those who do not qualify for current state and federally funded programs.
*CADP programs will offer volunteer opportunities, as well as internship opportunities for students/clinicians with supervised hours.
*All programming under the CADP umbrella includes paid staff who will handle intake, plan programming, monitor safety, and handle the administrative aspects of the programs.