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Sharon and her mother’s story

Sharon and her mother’s story

I had taken care of my mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. Shortly after my father passed away nearly 11 years ago from this disease, my mother was diagnosed too. I was devastated when the doctor told me and I knew what lay ahead. I was determined to do everything I could to slow down this disease and give my mother the best quality of life that I could.

sharonandmomAfter my mother was diagnosed I quickly had her move in with me. I learned about all the programs that were available for people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and enrolled my mom in an adult day program that was available in my area. At first she fought me to go but within a few weeks she looked forward to it.

At first she went one day a week but I soon realized that it was not enough as I found she was sleeping through most of the days, causing her to be more confused and not sleeping through the nights. However, within a few months she was going seven days a week. She loved it, spending time with other people doing crafts, playing various games and having a nutritious meal at lunchtime. She was even sleeping through the night, which was a blessing. The doctors were amazed on how well she was doing and told me to continue doing on what I was doing as her memory loss was progressing very slowly.

I encourage anyone who is caring for a family member or friend living with this disease to look into the different programs their area has to offer. Contact your local Community Care Access Centre or Alzheimer Society for help with finding a program in your area.

I was very lucky to be able to care for my mother at home for nine years. Sadly, last January my mom had to move into a nursing home due to other health issues, but I am thankful for the time I had with her.

Day programs: how do they help people with dementia and their caregivers?

Day programs: how do they help people with dementia and their caregivers?

Lindsay Butcher, the Acting Program manager at the Alzheimer Society of Peel, answers our questions about day programs.

1. What are adult day programs?

Adult day programs offer social and recreational activity during the day in a supported and supervised environment. At the Alzheimer Society of Peel, our day programs cater to adults with cognitive impairments. We provide a wide variety of therapeutic programming to help clients maintain their current level mental and physical functioning, ultimately to help them stay at home for as long as possible.

2. What types of activity do you offer?

Programs vary and are written specifically by the program staff.  Here are some examples:

  • Social and cognitive program: discussion groups, reading round table, word games, trivia.
  • Physical program: ball toss, shuffleboard, darts.
  • Creative: arts and crafts, painting, woodworking.
  • Musical: bell choir, musical bingo, sing-a-longs.
  • Sensory: follow your nose, hand massages, snoezelen therapy (textiles/fiberoptics)


3. How much do day programs cost?

The Alzheimer Society of Peel’s services range from $18-$26 dollars per day depending on what services are required by the family.

4. What kind of training do staff have?

Staff are especially trained to provide social and recreational therapy for older adults. Most of our staff, for example, graduated from the Social Service worker program from Humber and Sheridan College, and the Activation/Gerontology program from George Brown College. In the past, we have also had Personal Support Workers, Social Workers and staff with nursing backgrounds.

5. Are caregivers involved in day programs?

Typically caregivers are not involved in day programs, but they can use other services offered such as counselling, support groups and caregiver events.

6. What about mealtime?

We order our meals from an outside community partner. A breakfast and afternoon snack are provided. Lunch includes soup, a protein, starch, vegetables and dessert.  We also cater to special diets such as people with diabetes, celiac disease and religious concerns i.e. no pork or beef.

7. Are day programs offered to people at all stages of the disease?

At the Alzheimer Society of Peel, programs cater to people at all stages. We have three levels of programming. Level 1 is high functioning-based programming like discussion groups or trivia games where participation is member driven. Level 2 is geared towards members who cannot benefit from level 1 programs due to a language barrier or hearing impairment, but are able to participate with assistance by staff. Level 3 programming uses sensory stimulation for member engagement.

Many local Alzheimer Societies throughout the province offer day programs or can connect you with programs in your community. To find out more about day programs in your region, contact your local Alzheimer Society.

Lindsay-butcherLindsay Butcher

Acting Program Manager

Alzheimer Society of Peel