(Reuters Health) – The stress of caring for a family member with dementia may take a toll on health over time, but a new study suggests that even one day off can shift caregivers’ stress levels back toward normal.   Adult day services supporters nationwide are celebrating the power of adult day services during National Adult Day Services Week, September 14-21, 2014.

Based on measurements of the stress hormone cortisol, researchers found that caregivers had healthier stress responses on days when the dementia patient went to adult daycare. Even anticipation of the day off had an effect on cortisol levels.

“This study reinforces the notion that caregivers need support and sometimes that support means sharing the care,” said an expert who was not involved in the study.

Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said that sharing the care means the caregiver has some time off and that’s important because the caregiver’s health is critical to the care receiver’s health.

“If the caregiver is comfortable, at ease, calm, in good spirits, that’s going to carry over to the person who’s receiving the care,” he told Reuters Health. “And conversely if the caregiver is upset, that person with dementia is going to be affected by that.”  Read more