Pennsylvania State University has released the results of a study that shows the beneficial stress hormone DHEA-S increases in caregivers’ saliva when their family member with dementia uses an adult day care program. DHEA-S is associated with controlling harmful effects of stress and better long-term health.
Steven Zarit, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at PSU, states that not only can DHEA-S be modified by intervention but that this intervention (adult day care) not only lowers the caregivers’ stress, but also affects their body’s response to stress.
Further, Zarit says that caregivers are at an increased risk for illness because of their long hours and the ill effects of high stress levels. “The use of adult day care services may protect caregivers against the harmful effects of stress associated with giving care to someone with dementia.”
“We have so many caregivers and participants tell us how much better they feel after a day at one of our centers,” says Joanne Thomson, senior director of day services at Benevilla. “One dementia caregiver recently mentioned that their loved one is having trouble getting going in the morning, but by the end of a day at our center their spirits are up and they’re pleasantly tired. It’s amazing how much of a change even one day a week can make.”
The study centered on 151 caregivers of a relative with dementia who attended an adult day care center at least two days a week. These caregivers were asked to collect their saliva five times a day over eight consecutive days. Interviews were conducted each of the eight evenings that the study participants collect saliva to assess their mood and challenges in their day.
The research team found that caregivers of relatives with dementia had increased DHEA-S the day after the adult day care visit. Steven Zarit, leader of the research study, states that regular use of adult day care services may help reduce the levels of DHEA-S and allow the body to develop protection and healing from the physical demands of caregiving.
Just two days a week at an adult day care program benefits not only the person with dementia but also their caregiver. The increasing “good stress” hormones allow caregivers to maintain their own health and good stress hormones.
Benevilla has two adult day care centers that cater to dementia clients in Sun City and Surprise and four centers catering to those with physical rehabilition or general needs including two specifically for intellectually disabled adults.