Adult day care a critical component to addressing Alzheimer’s


Special to the Recorder

A lot can happen in a minute. For example, 250 babies are born every minute; lightning strikes the earth 6,000 times every minute; there are five earthquakes every minute and Americans eat 21,000 slices of pizza every minute. (Yep, you read that right!) That’s what the statistics say, anyway.
The statistics also say that if you add just six seconds to that minute, someone in the United States will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Every time. Every 66 seconds.
But let’s stop the clock for a minute and take a quick look at how these 66 seconds are adding up. How are they affecting our lives and the lives of our friends, neighbors and family members? According to the Alzheimer’s Association (, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease at this very moment, making it the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
What’s more, in 2015, family caregivers provided 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care at an estimated economic value of $221.3 billion. And that’s not all. They also spent, on average, more than $5,000 every year on the cost of that care. For some, this means doing without luxuries like vacations and new cars; for others, it means cutting back on essentials like food, medications and recreation. In addition, many caregivers opt to work at home during the hours when their loved one is less active just to make ends meet.
Unfortunately, here in St. Johns County, we are keeping a steady pace with the national count: More than 4,000 residents are dealing with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, brain trauma or memory loss. That means you probably know someone who is either personally challenged by the medical issues of dementia, or providing care for a loved one who is.
“Our county statistics are sobering,” said Becky Yanni, executive director of the Council on Aging. “Professional, compassionate adult day care is a key component to quality of life.”
The Council on Aging has taken the lead on this issue, Yanni said, by providing the only two licensed, therapeutic adult day care centers in St. Johns County: the COA Sunshine Center at 180 Marine St. in St. Augustine, and the COA Ponte Vedra Adult Day Care Center, located 1048 A1A North.
Why is adult day care so important when we talk about dementia care? The truth is, we all need the company of others to whom we can relate and with whom we feel comfortable. Socialization is crucial to quality of life at any age, no matter our particular issues. It is important that each of us feels connected to our environment. At the COA adult day care centers, specially designed activities and exercises provide stimulation while encouraging a sense of accomplishment. There are also field trips, parties and a rhythm and routine that give the participants a feeling of security and comfort.
Another big advantage of adult day care is that it provides the caregiver with time free from the stress that accompanies the job of caring for a loved one. Caregivers can continue to work without worrying about how Mom or Dad are doing at home. They can meet a friend for lunch, schedule their medical appointments, take a class or simply relax and listen to music or read a book. The hard truth is that caregivers are great at caring for others but not always so great at caring for themselves. So by allowing for regular respite time knowing their loved one is in a safe and secure setting, caregivers can do whatever they need to do to rejuvenate and re-energize.
To learn more about memory loss or to schedule a tour of a COA adult day care center, please call the Council on Aging at (904) 209-3700 or visit
Sixty-six seconds. Just enough time to make a phone call. Because a lot can happen in a minute.

Susan Johnson is the communications coordinator for the St. Johns County Council on Aging.