May 5, 2011

Alzheimer's Day Care, Bingo, and Dotty in the Morning

We usually start our day with a discussion like this one.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's Day Care, Bingo, and Dotty in the Morning
I am a strong advocate of Alzheimer's Adult Day Care. It works.

However, Dotty has never been in day care. Recently, I had several conversations around this issue with Carole Larkin. Carole feels strongly that Dotty would benefit from going to day care, I don't disagree.

Why isn't Dotty in adult day care? Back in late 2004, I visited two locations that were offering this service for Alzheimer's patients. In both cases I was appalled. I went it to investigate and in both cases Alzheimer's patients were sitting around in front of a giant television doing nothing. That was the state of affairs back then.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with an Alzheimer's caregiver that was referred to me by a doctor. She told me her father was in a half day adult care program that was specifically designed for dementia patients.

She then told me about all the activities that he was engaged in. Art, singing, light aerobic exercise, and things of this nature. The program lasts 4 hours.

Her father is picked up by a van in front of their home and delivered back to the same spot.

She did tell me it was difficult to get him to go at first. But now, there are few problems although it is still not unusual for him to say he doesn't want to go. Then when the time comes he goes without problem.

She did tell me he seems more aware, more there, when he returns home. She believes he is happier. Most importantly, she benefits from about 6 hours of respite each day. 2 hours going and coming home, and the four hour program.

This change in adult day care for dementia patients serves as a good example that Alzheimer's awareness is growing. That more and more people are becoming aware that Alzheimer's patients can and will respond to activity. And that, effective day care programs for Alzheimer's patients are now available.

I'm convinced that good healthy activity can slow the progression of Alzheimer's in a large fraction of the patient population.

I have been thinking about this issue quite hard. Should I send Dotty to Adult Day Care?

I decided not to for a simple reason. We have our own program which we developed over time. Exercise, socialization, bright light, and doing something that gets us out and about at least once each day. We also have the Harvey, the pool, our neighbors and friends, and a membership to the gym.

One thing that really worked well for Dotty was bingo. When I first arrived on the scene Dotty was going to bingo once or twice a week, at night. This would take up about three hours. I would drop her off, and then go about my own business. Once I met some people down here in Florida, I would occasionally meet someone. However, to be honest, most of the time I went out to public places on my own. I have no trouble meeting people, and this is one thing I like to do.

After a couple of years, the people that would sit with Dotty at bingo and keep an eye on her while she was playing stopped going or couldn't go anymore for health reasons. One thing about Dotty, she has outlasted hundreds of friends and acquaintances over the years.

Not all of the bingo players dropped out over health reasons. Quite a few of them started going to this video arcades we have down here. It is somewhat like playing slot machines. If you win you get a gift certificate instead of cash. You also get a free, not very high quality, dinner if you get there between 5-6 PM. If you like mac and cheese, you will like the video arcade.

This year, I couldn't find anyone to go with Dotty to the "little" bingo they have up the street from January to March. It is held in the clubhouse of a small community of older people.

Two years ago, there were three people that went with Dotty. Last year two. This year none. Health reasons.

I am a fan of bingo. Dotty no longer knows when she gets a Bingo. But, last time around she could hit all the numbers with her marker. They are starting a bingo right here in the Pines of Delray in July. We shall see.

As many of you know, I have an all day long program for Dotty. On the issue of day care, I don't want to rock the boat at this point in time. We have our patterns well established and this seem to be working.

We usually start our day with a discussion like this one. You might get a good laugh late in the podcast when Dotty says that Harvey told her to go to hell.

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The ARR knowledge base contains more than 3,811 articles with more than 306,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room