Adult day programs offer socialization for older adults with dementia

September 1, 2022

Creating environments to thrive in

Older adults with cognitive challenges often face increasingly limited options for social engagement. Adult day centers are community- based programs that are open during the day and provide social opportunities, health and wellness services and physical activity for older adults who are typically living at home with their family.

“When we think about the care needs surrounding a dementia diagnosis, we have to think about both the person living with the diagnosis and their primary caregiver,” said Jennifer McAlister, Program Manager, Alzheimer’s Association. “Both of these individuals have specific health concerns that need to be considered as the disease progresses. Adult day centers offer families the opportunity to address those needs simultaneously. The person living with dementia has the opportunity to connect with other people through structured programs that offer a consistent and therapeutic daily routine. The caregiver is offered the opportunity to take a break from their caregiving responsibilities, allowing them to focus on their own self-care.”

“As individuals age, they sometimes find that maintaining relationships outside of home can become increasingly difficult,” said Kendra Words, Executive Director, Alexian Village. “That’s why adult day programs, like we offer at Alexian Village, fill a void for families and allow seniors to thrive as they age. Driving is a luxury that seniors often lose. And eventually being able to navigate outside the home can be very challenging. Ultimately, the ability for seniors to socialize decreases over time. Many families don’t know that options even exist to support their loved one as they face these challenges. But we have found that people thrive in social environments.”

Reducing caregiver burnout

“Adult day centers offer the best benefit to both the person living with dementia and their caregiver when utilized consistently 2-3 days a week,” said McAlister. “The health benefits for both people include increased socialization, improved sleep and better nutrition. Adult day centers can delay residential care placement by as much as two years.”

“Once families learn about adult day services, they get connected with other families who are facing the same challenges, and can relate,” said Words. “We see many “sandwich generation” caregivers, who are caring for a child and also a senior in their home. The demands are great for these caregivers and we want to avoid caregiver burnout as much as we can.”

Alexian Village and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Alexian Village has a team for the upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Milwaukee County on Sept. 18. “Many of our residents are on a journey with dementia and we use the time around the Walk season to create awareness for memory loss and signs of dementia,” said Words.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Milwaukee County
Henry Maier Festival Park
Gates Open 8:00 a.m./
Opening Ceremony 9:30 a.m.
Walk Begins 10:00 a.m.
Register at

Kendra Words, LNHA, CDAL, is the Executive Director at Alexian Village of Milwaukee. Alexian Village provides a complete continuum of care – including independent, assisted, skilled nursing & rehab and adult day services.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers free resources and social engagement opportunities for families on a journey with dementia. They also offer a 24/7 Helpline 800.272.3900.