Ask Joan: Options counseling for caregivers
April 16, 2024

Q. I am 76 years old and the primary caretaker of my wife, who has Alzheimer’s. While I love my wife and want to help her, there are days when I am exhausted and struggling, especially when I’ve been up all night with her. Our doctor suggested trying an adult day health program, but I wonder if she needs to be in a nursing home. I’m not sure what to do.

A. Caregiving is a demanding role, and it is often overwhelming. It’s OK to not have all the answers or always know what to do, so I am glad you have reached out.

AgeSpan CEO
Joan Hatem-Roy

There are many families in your situation and there is help available. A good place to start is our Options Counseling Program. It’s designed to help you and your wife make informed decisions about care options as well as plans for the future. This service is available to any adult aged 60 and over and there are no income restrictions.

Our counselors can answer your questions and offer suggestions regarding home and community-based supports like adult day health, institutional services, resources to assist in paying for care, and referrals to other providers and resources.

Recently, our Options Counselors assisted a family where the grandmother started attending an adult day program, which provides supervision and care in a community group setting. Despite her initial hesitation, she looks forward to going. It has given structure to her day and many opportunities for socialization and to participate in activities. Meanwhile, her primary caregiver, in this case her daughter, is able to get some much-needed downtime.

Whether an adult day program is right for your wife or if she requires other supports, the Options Counselors will help you make informative decisions about care options and put a plan together that meets the needs of you and your wife. It’s about supporting your choices.

You may also want to consider our Family Caregiver Support Program. It offers services for caregivers, including support groups for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Many caregivers have found participating in a group is a good way to decompress and find comradery and advice in a supportive setting.

Taking care of a loved one is so rewarding but it is also important to take care of yourself as well. I wish you and your wife all the best as you seek out the supports and services that work best for both of you.

Are you caring for an older adult or need help locating healthy aging resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at You can also call 800-892-0890 or email

Joan Hatem-Roy is the chief executive officer of AgeSpan.

First published in the Eagle-Tribune

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