Dementia is a broad term describing a range of symptoms including loss of memory and cognitive skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 5 million people over the age of 65 are diagnosed with dementia. The majority of dementia patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, with vascular dementia as the second most common form. The symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, but, in general, they will decrease an individual’s ability to perform everyday activities independently.

The progressive nature of dementia can be devastating for the patient and their loved ones, as communication, reasoning, judgment, focus, and core thinking skills deteriorate over time. The occasional frustration over losing keys or forgetting an appointment can escalate to more serious function loss. Many dementia patients eventually require full time supervision and care for their own safety.

Adult day care can be integral in providing a safe environment for someone struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, but what exactly does it entail? Adult day care centers can be beneficial for the patient and their loved ones. The person with dementia can enjoy organized activities such as art and music classes, general recreation, and opportunities to socialize. Many centers offer group therapy and counseling, as well.  Adult day care centers should provide meals for attendees and can provide assistance with activities of daily living, including toileting and other basic tasks. Care center services and amenities will differ, so it’s important to compare the options in your area.

Respite for Caregivers

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be stressful, especially for family members with full time jobs and other obligations. Adult day care centers can provide the relief a caregiver needs. Although hours and schedules can vary, some will be open during weekends. Some care centers will also provide transportation. Caregivers find that getting even an occasional break will reduce their stress and allow them to continue caring for their loved one long-term.

Finding the Right Adult Day Care Center

Dementia patients and their family of caregivers have unique needs and preferences. Comparing local adult day care centers will be essential in finding the right one for your loved one. Check with the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to find centers nearby. The Eldercare Locator is a nationwide resource provided by the Administration on Aging, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to help people connect to state, local, and community-based organizations.

Will Medicare Help Pay for Adult Day Care?

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the cost of custodial care or adult day care unless the patient has been officially admitted to hospice care. If your loved one is in hospice, Medicare Part A will usually help cover the cost of inpatient respite care in a Medicare-approved facility, such as a hospice inpatient facility, hospital, or nursing home. Your hospice provider will arrange this for you. Your loved one can stay up to 5 days in respite care. You can get respite care more than once, but it can only be provided on an occasional basis.

Medicare Part A and Part B may cover the costs of many other medical expenses for patients with dementia, including doctor visits, cognitive assessment, and care planning services. Part D prescription drug coverage may help cover the cost of medications prescribed by a physician to treat some of the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are required to cover at least the same Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare, but many offer additional coverage. If your loved one is enrolled in a MA plan, check plan details for your exact costs for any treatments or services related to dementia care.

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