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Short-Term Care Services Available to Assist Caregivers of Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease

Last Updated: September 10, 2018

There are several types of short-term care services available to assist dementia caregivers. Like respite care, these services also provide a break for caregivers, as well as provide their loved ones with opportunities for activity and interaction. In some cases, short-term care may include medical care from a skilled person, such as a home health nurse or physical therapist. Read below to learn about the most common types of short-term supportive care available.

 

Adult Day Care

While the term “day care” may bring to mind the image of children, adult day care services actually provide a time and a place for elderly adults, as well as adults with dementia, to come together and socialize and interact. In this regards, the environment is much like a senior center.

Many adult day care centers cater to the needs and abilities of persons with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) / dementia. Staff can work with each person individually to assist him / her in staying physically, mentally, and socially active. Meals, snacks, supervision, personal care assistance, and various activities are provided at adult day care. In addition, transportation is sometimes provided to and from facilities. For primary caregivers who work part- or full-time, adult day care can provide support and relief from caregiving for a few hours a day.

When considering adult day care options, again, make sure that the facility understands and is equipped to meet the needs of your loved one. Ask about the kinds of services and staff that are available. For instance, is there a nurse, a physical therapist, or a dietitian at the facility who supervises activities and the wellbeing of the adults?

Unfortunately, like with overnight respite care, Medicare often does not cover the cost of this kind of service. Therefore, you may have to look into other sources of funding, such as Medicaid, local non-profit organizations, and the Older Americans Act (OAA) program available through local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA).

Adult day care centers that specifically and exclusively for persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia are sometimes referred to as Alzheimer’s Day Treatment Centers. Some offer transportation services to and from the centers.

 

Home Health Care

Home health care, sometimes also referred to as in-home care, brings someone with healthcare skills into the home. This home health aide can assist with more intensive nursing services for your loved one, such as monitoring medications or dealing with other medical conditions like diabetes. Additionally, home health care might include physical therapy, speech therapy, or occupational therapy, depending upon your loved one’s particular needs. In this way, this service provides care on a more frequent and convenient basis than periodic trips to the doctor’s office.

It is possible that Medicare and/or Medicaid will be able to finance home health care services. However, requirements and benefits vary by state and area, so contact your local Social Security Administration office or your local Area Agency on Aging for more details.

 

Companion / Personal Care Services

Another type of in-home care, companion and personal care services provide persons who have dementia with non-medical assistance. This type of care is ideal for those who have recently been diagnosed with dementia and can still function mostly independently. It can also be beneficial as a means to give primary caregivers a break. With companion care, along with companionship, supervision, and emotional support, a variety of other assistance may be provided. This includes light housecleaning and laundry, shopping for essentials, transportation, and meal preparation. Personal care assistants are able to provide all of the services a care companion does, but also provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Examples include helping with bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, and more.

For low-income persons, Medicaid may help in covering the cost of these services. In addition, assistance may be available through non-profit organizations in one’s area.

 

Meals and Transportation

For those individuals who are in the early stages of AD / dementia and still live by themselves, meal programs and transportation services can support their independence and ensure that they are adequately and safely provided for. Many community centers, senior centers, and religious institutions offer lunch. Home-delivered meals are also available through programs such as “Meals-on-Wheels” for persons who are less able to leave the house or prepare their own meals. Transportation services are provided for individuals who cannot easily travel on their own as part of the Americans With Disabilities Act. In addition, your county likely has some sort of private or public transportation system in place that can help your loved one travel safely to and from their home.

Both meal and transportation services are available either for free or with minimal fees (enough to keep the programs running). Additionally, these programs are usually willing to work with the needs and available resources of individuals to make their services a possibility. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what is available to you. You can also contact Project Action, which maintains a national list of community transportation services.