The study is published in the May 1, 2004, issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. It is part of the NYU Spouse-Caregiver Intervention Study, a longstanding research endeavor devoted to testing interventions to improve the mental health and well being of Alzheimer's caregivers, providing a model of support for families as they struggle to care for a loved one with Alzheimer's
"The intensive intervention in this new study was very brief--only six sessions--and yet that seems to have had a very long lasting effect," says Mary Mittelman, Dr.P.H., the lead author of the study who is Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and Director of the Psychosocial Research and Support Program at the NYU School of Medicine's William and Silvia Silberstein Institute on Aging and Dementia. "I explain it as a snowball effect, whereby the benefits that started in the counseling sessions led to changes that many families made in the way they interacted afterwards."
Alzheimer's disease is a tragedy not only to its victims, but also to their caregivers, says Dr. Mittelman. Spouses, who are usually the primary caregivers, often experience stress, depression, and other mental health problems as a result of the continuing and demanding levels of care required by patients with Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia affecting people over 65.
A total of 406 caregivers were enrolled in the study, which began in 1987,and were divided into two groups. Half the caregivers, the control group, received the usual counseling--sessions provided on an ad-hoc basis
Contact: Jennifer Berman
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine