Keeping up with the changing needs of a loved one with dementia while preserving your own mental and physical health is a perpetual juggling act for caregivers. Your loved one constantly needs your attention, yet you also have other responsibilities. And while friends and family may encourage you to take a break to take care of yourself, how do you safely do that?
Respite care - short-term relief for caregivers - is an option. But for middle- and low-income families, the cost of adult day programs can be a barrier. A recent study by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving found that only 14% of caregivers use respite services despite the fact that more than twice that amount -- 38% -- felt they needed it.
The DayBreak program was created to fill that need in Detroit. DayBreak, a unique service of the acclaimed Hannan Center, which has served seniors since 1924, provides comprehensive yet flexible hours of respite care at affordable prices for seniors living with dementia or needing assistance with Activities of Daily Living. ADLs can include walking,using the restroom, eating, and/or communicating.
Vincent Tilford, executive director of the Hannan Center, says that thanks to support from the City of Detroit, the Detroit Area Agency on Aging and the Michigan Alzheimer’s Association, DayBreak is able to provide a 5:1 patient/staff ratio, and flexible service hours. Costs are on a sliding scale and financial assistance is sometimes available. The charge can be as little as $5-$8 hour, which is less than half of what’s usually charged at other facilities. He calls respite care vital for participants and caregivers, saying, “Often the person who is taking care or supporting that other person is sicker than the person that they’re trying to help. Or they are neglecting their own health in the process just because they’re not able to do all the other things that they need to do; that’s why we call it DayBreak.”
Belinda Croft, BSW DayBreak program manager, says the program follows strict COVID-19 protocols in its dedicated space and offers a wide variety of activities during the day for older adults directed by highly trained staff. “We have a Tai Chi instructor that comes in once a week, we have an exercise fitness person that comes in twice a week, and I have an art therapist that comes in once a week as well.”
Croft adds that there are opportunities for participants to safely help with meal prep and cooking and plans are in the works for music therapy. There are special spaces in the facility if an older adult becomes over stimulated or is tired and just needs some supervised quiet time. DayBreak can also assist families in other ways, including connecting them to other community and elder law services, as well as transportation, which is a major issue for some families.
The program has been a godsend for people like Constance Brown, whose mother has been a participant.
“I ain’t going to lie, it’s hard,” says Brown, who is on her third round and 12th year of caregiving. She took care of her late father and grandmother, and for the last five years, her mother. She appreciates DayBreak because, “They do stuff with her that I don’t do. We go for walks and do stuff like go to Belle Isle or go to church, but they engage
her in music, dancing, art and she likes the other people. They get each other.”
The respite care gives Brown time to run errands or just have a moment of “me” time, all while knowing her mother is in good hands, having a enjoyable day. “It stimulates my mom’s mind, it keeps her busy. I love it,” she says.
Gerontologists suggest using a check list when considering an adult day program. Consider variables like: What are the hours? How flexible are they? Are there stimulating programs? And most importantly, check out the cleanliness of the facility and the experience level of the staff.
DayBreak offers complimentary trial days. It’s a great way to see if the program is a good fit for your loved one. For more information on the program contact Belinda Croft, BSW, DayBreak Manager at 313.831.4999 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Hannan Center is located at 4750 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201. For more information on the center, see www.hannan.org/daybreak.