Providence Healthcare has a drop-off program for Alzheimer’s patients and their families

At Providence Healthcare, a program for adults living with dementia offers a temporary home away from home for up to 10 hours at a time, at a cost of $20 per visit.

“We try to follow the routine they followed at home,” said Elizabeth Davison, program manager. “If they were early to bed, we’ll get them early to bed. If they want to stay up and watch the 11 o’clock news, that’s not a problem. It’s really important to go with the flow when it comes to clients with dementia.”

Providence Healthcare is located at 3276 St. Clair Ave. E. and opened in 1995. They soon found they needed to make the service available overnight.

Davison has worked with people suffering from irreversible dementias for about 20 years. She said patients with dementia can often become confused, especially at night.

“They are up at night, or they get up in the middle of the night thinking it’s time to go to work, to do something, or to see their family, and it’s 2:30 in the morning,” Davison said.

Davison acknowledges that this symptom could be difficult for at-home caregivers who look after loved ones, as they’ve got schedules of their own. She finds that this is a benefit of the Adult Day Program, which also extends its service into the overnight hours to take care of its clients with dementia.

“If the clients are in bed sleeping, that’s great. If clients are up in the middle of the night because they just get up, or have day-night reversal, staff [members] are here to provide activities. Usually it’s more quiet one-on-one, some reading… those types of things can happen on the overnight.”

The space dedicated to the program includes rooms for dining, sleeping and activities, from trivia to baking. Davison says the breakfast, lunch, and dinner “clubs” can be important to a caregiver, who may have other things to tend to.

“They can run errands, they can go shopping, hey can go home and just relax… anything they need to do, to get that break.” Davison said.

The Adult Day Program grew to offer seminars focused on caregiver concerns and support groups, separated by the caregiver’s relationship to dementia.

“The issues if you’re [caring for] a mom or dad with dementia, versus a spouse, are very different and that’s why we’ve separated it out and it’s been very successful,” Davison said.

Davison finds these support services help create bonds outside of Providence Healthcare, and extending into the outside world.

“Particularly the wives group, I’ll see them sometimes chatting outside my office after the support group and they’ll all go out to lunch together. So they’ve created a support group outside of what we’ve created here,” Davison said.

Though some people diagnosed with dementia may be apprehensive about joining, Davison and her staff employ a variety of techniques to help patients decide to give the program a try. “Sometimes to get them in there we’ll say ‘Why don’t you come for a cup of tea and we’ll see if you like it?’… We really try and promote that club atmosphere”.