Overnight activities for dementia patients

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NEW YORK (AP) – Just after 10 p.m., when most people their age are going to sleep, a group of elderly folks suffering from dementia are just getting started, dancing and shaking tambourines and maracas in a raucous version of “La Bamba.”

“It’s a party,” says an 81-year-old woman, among dozens of patients brought to a Bronx nursing home every night for a structured series of singalongs, crafts and therapy sessions that lasts until dawn.

The program, which appears to be rare, is kind of a “night camp” for dementia victims who don’t sleep at night or tend to wake up agitated or become frightened or disoriented by the fall of darkness.

It’s meant to provide care and activity – lots of activity – to fill the wee hours for people with Alzheimer’s and similar diseases who live at home. And it’s meant to provide their caregivers – usually a son or daughter – with a treasured night’s sleep.

“Without this program, my father would be lost, and I would be crazy,” said Robert Garcia, whose 82-year-old father, Felix, is in the program at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale called ElderServe at Night. “He doesn’t sleep. At night he’s wide awake, and he needs activity.”

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