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Dementia Care Intervention Eases Burden for Families

Intervention sessions, individually tailored to help people caring for family members with dementia//, show promise in reducing rates of clinical depression, according to a multi-site study co-authored by a University of Alabama researcher.

Study results, publishing in the Nov. 21 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, indicate the intervention strategies can also significantly ease the burden and improve the quality of life for the caregiver.

“Caring for a loved one with dementia presents a number of challenges that can seriously compromise the caregiver’s quality of life,” said Dr. Louis Burgio, Distinguished Research Professor at the Center for Mental Health and Aging at The University of Alabama and principal investigator at one of the five study sites. “For the millions of Americans who care for a loved one at home, an intervention that can improve their quality of life and lessen the burden of caregiving can make meaningful differences in their ability to better care both for themselves and their loved ones,” he said.

The findings are significant, according to the researchers, because not only is caring for a loved one with dementia stressful, but the experience can contribute to the development of psychiatric and physical illnesses and increased risk for death among the caregivers.

The researchers found that, overall, the intervention was effective across racial and ethnic groups, with the most significant improvements among Hispanic and white caregivers. In African-Americans, the intervention was effective among spouse-caregivers, but relatively ineffective among caregivers who were caring for a relative other than their husband or wife.

The study was the first randomized, controlled trial to look at the effectiveness of a multi-component caregiver intervention on quality of life across an ethnically diverse population. About 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease live at home with 75 perce
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