Adult day services: caring for the caregiver

February 02, 2022  |  by WesleyLife

At WesleyLife, serving those who care for their loved ones is every bit as important as serving the loved ones themselves. After all, studies show that individuals who devote most of their time to caring for a family member who needs round-the-clock support can experience detrimental, even debilitating, effects to their physical, emotional, and mental health.

"Higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and other mental-health effects are common among family members who care for an older relative or friend," says Julie Reed, R.N., Director of Dahl Adult Day Center, a WesleyLife adult day center on the Wesley Acres campus in Des Moines. "That's why programs like adult day are doubly beneficial, in that they offer respite to the caregiver while also providing an enriching and safe experience for the loved one."

WesleyLife offers adult day services at Dahl as well as at Willowbrook on the Park Centre campus in Newton. Services are available to anyone 45 and older who could benefit from purposeful, enriching interaction during the day while a caregiver is at work or fulfilling other responsibilities.

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The majority of participants in WesleyLife's adult day centers have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, making at-home caregiving doubly challenging for their loved ones.

"When you have a dementia diagnosis, you have all the challenges of a life-altering physical illness combined with worry over someone who might become disoriented, wander, or pose a safety risk to themselves; plus, you may be having to adjust to a partner or parent who behaves dramatically differently toward you because of their disease," Julie says.

"That kind of unrelenting stress can take a tremendous toll. Mental-health professionals compare it to when someone experiences a major life event like a death, a job loss, or bankruptcy.

"That's why care for the caregiver is so critical, and why it's a priority for us."

Ward Phillips, Senior Director of Sales for WesleyLife, says it's also not uncommon for caregivers to feel they can "do it all" and be reluctant to ask for help.

"I was talking with a woman whose husband has dementia to the point that he's disoriented much of the time, and yet she felt as though she should be able to handle the situation and care for him at home," Ward says. "I let her know that we truly know what she is going through.

"She was so surprised to know anyone would understand that she started to sob, and she kept telling me that for the first time, she felt validated for the way that she was feeling. She -- and all caregivers -- absolutely need to be validated! What they do is incredibly challenging. She was just so relieved to know we could help her."

In an effort to ease some of the strain and assist caregivers with coping strategies, WesleyLife's adult day centers offer services such as support groups and other programming for caregivers and families.

"It can bring caregivers so much comfort to sit and talk with others who know how hopeless they can feel in this situation," Julie says. "Simply knowing you are not alone can be very powerful." 

Watch Mary Alice's Story:

If you're a caregiver who could use some assistance -- or know someone in need of help -- learn more about WesleyLife's adult day services here, or call Dahl at (515) 271-6701 or Willowbrook at (641) 791-4500. We would love to make life easier for you, or for someone you love. 


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