Adult day services for dementia patients provide stress relief to family caregivers

May 23, 2013, Pennsylvania State University

Family caregivers of older adults with dementia are less stressed and their moods are improved on days when dementia patients receive adult day services (ADS), according to Penn State researchers.

"Caregivers who live with and care for someone with dementia can experience extraordinary amounts of stress," said Steven Zarit, professor and head, human development and family studies. "The use of adult day services appears to provide caregivers with a much-needed break that can possibly protect them from the caused by ."

The researchers conducted eight daily telephone interviews on consecutive days with 173 of individuals with dementia who use an ADS—a service that is designed to provide social and some health services to adults who need supervised care outside the home during the day. On some of the interview days, the individuals with dementia attended an ADS program. On other days they were with the caregiver most or all of the time. In the daily interviews, the researchers asked the caregivers about the and positive events they had been exposed to, as well as their mood and health symptoms during the day.

"Multiple daily reports allow us to compare each person to himself or herself on ADS and non-ADS days," said Zarit. "We can then assess if each person shows improvement in stressor exposure, mood and health symptoms on ADS days compared to non-ADS days. This comparison provides a more fundamental indicator of improvement than how that individual might compare to a group average."

Next, the team used multi-level statistical models to analyze the results of the telephone interviews. The results will appear in today's (May 23) issue of The Gerontologist.

The researchers found that caregivers had lower exposure to care-related stressors and more positive experiences on days when their family members with dementia used ADS. On these days, caregivers also were exposed to more non-care stressors. Yet the overall effect of the use of adult day services on caregivers was lowered anger and reduced impact of non-care stressors on depressive symptoms.

"ADS days were associated with a small increase in non-care stressors, yet caregivers reacted to high levels of non-care stressors with less depressive mood on ADS days than non-ADS days, so we conclude that the use of ADS has a buffering effect on the relation of non-care stressors on depressive mood," said Zarit. "Overall, our findings demonstrate that stressors on caregivers are partly lowered and mood is improved on days when their relatives attend adult day service programs, which may provide protection against the negative effects of chronic stress associated with caregiving."

Explore further: Adult day care services provide much-needed break to family caregivers

Related Stories

Adult day care services provide much-needed break to family caregivers

July 18, 2011
Adult day care services significantly reduce the stress levels of family caregivers of older adults with dementia, according to a team of Penn State and Virginia Tech researchers.

Caregivers and their relatives disagree about care given, received

August 1, 2011
Caregivers and their relatives who suffer from mild to moderate dementia often have different perceptions regarding the amount and quality of care given and received. A study by researchers at Penn State and the Benjamin ...

Study shows hospice caregivers need routine care interventions

November 30, 2011
A study led by the University of Kentucky researcher Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles found that hospice family caregivers are "second order patients" themselves and require their own unique care needs.

Cognitive reframing can help dementia caregivers with depression, stress

November 9, 2011
Family caregivers of people with dementia experience more burden and are at greater risk of developing depression than caregivers of people with a chronic illness. A new evidence review from the Netherlands finds that a psychotherapy ...

Recommended for you

Your office may be affecting your health

August 20, 2018
Workers in open office seating had less daytime stress and greater daytime activity levels compared to workers in private offices and cubicles, according to new research led by the University of Arizona.

Sitting for long hours found to reduce blood flow to the brain

August 20, 2018
A team of researchers with Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K. has found evidence of reduced blood flow to the brain in people who sit for long periods of time. In their paper published in the Journal of Applied ...

Healthy diet linked to healthy cellular aging in women

August 20, 2018
Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in added sugar, sodium and processed meats could help promote healthy cellular aging in women, according to a new study published in the American Journal ...

Balanced advice needed to address 'screen time' for children, study shows

August 20, 2018
Parents, health professionals and educators need clear and balanced information to help manage young children's use of mobile touch-screen devices in Australia, new research by Curtin University has found.

Students more likely to eat school breakfast when given extra time, new study finds

August 18, 2018
Primary school students are more likely to eat a nutritional breakfast when given 10 extra minutes to do so, according to a new study by researchers at Virginia Tech and Georgia Southern University.

Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health

August 17, 2018
Eating carbohydrates in moderation seems to be optimal for health and longevity, suggests new research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.