Losing My Cool Over Research

It’s hot in Chicago, which is why I’m trying to keep my cool.

I received an email yesterday with this subject line: “Family Caregivers Get Much-Needed Break from Adult Day Care Services.” Just reading this subject line makes me hot. Because I know what’s coming in the text: Researchers actually spent money to determine that adult day services help family caregivers. Oh, and along the way, they learned that the centers’ socialization and activities are also good for carees with dementia.

I can feel myself losing my cool.

Apparently, it took four researchers, one research associate, one graduate student and funding from the National Institute of Mental Health to determine that, really, adult day centers help family caregivers and their carees.

Since 1996, I’ve been asking family caregivers which services they’d like to see more of in their communities. Until last year, adult day centers made the top three on their wish list. (In 2010 and 2001, adult day services fell to No. 4 on your wish list. In 2010, you wanted more support groups, conferences and counseling services. In 2011, you wanted more financial aid, support groups and conferences/counseling services (tie).)

According to the National Adult Day Services Association, only 4,600 adult day centers existed in the United States in 2010. If each center accommodates 50 carees, then only 230,000 persons with dementia and other chronic illnesses attend an adult day center. According to Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, an estimated 5.1 million individuals have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. That’s just Alzheimer’s—not vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s, diabetes, arthritis… You get the idea.

We don’t have enough adult day centers. We need more of them. And, we know we need more of them because I’ve got the proof (and my research hardly cost me anything).

How about this use of research dollars? Open up adult day centers in communities with high unemployment rates. Employ the unemployed. Provide adult day services in the community, which help family caregivers and their carees. In essence, you meet two needs (jobs and support) at once. Then, research the impact of opening up a small business that both employs and serves individuals in a community. Find out what worked, what didn’t and which best practices can be shared to help other communities.

Wouldn’t that be a cool research project?

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2 Comments on "Losing My Cool Over Research"

Jul 19, 2011

Well said, Denise! It is frustrating to see research being done on what seems so blatantly obvious (but I realize they need “proof” in order to even possibly get funding for these projects, etc.). There has to be a better system — love your ideas.

Jul 19, 2011

I don’t know, Denise, your ideas are way too practical and they also solve a problem. If the problem is solved, researchers can’t ask for more money to do more research on the problem.