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New trials for counseling caregivers and patients with Alzheimer's begin

Three studies are underway at the NYU School of Medicine to find out whether short-term counseling can ease the psychological stress and depression of people with Alzheimer's disease and their family members. These studies were inspired by the success of a previous trial at the NYU School of Medicine that showed that even a short period of counseling can have a long-term beneficial impact on the emotional well-being of people taking care of spouses with Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease is a tragedy not only to its victims, but also to their caregivers, says Mary Mittelman, Dr.P.H., Director of the Psychosocial Research and Support Program at the NYU School of Medicine's Silberstein Institute. Primary caregivers often experience stress, depression, and other emotional problems as a result of the continuing and demanding levels of care required by people with Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia affecting people over 65.

Dr. Mittelman and her colleagues found that a unique counseling and support program substantially eases the depression of spouse caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, and the effects were evident even three years after counseling. Even when spouse caregivers have supportive networks, there can still be communication difficulties within families that require counseling to resolve.

Dr. Mittelman's landmark study was only for spouse caregivers. A new study, a replication of the original, is designed for people caring for a parent with Alzheimer's disease, and will be conducted simultaneously in New York City and rural Kentucky.

A second new study will focus on helping people who are caring for a parent in the middle stage of the disease, when behavioral problems are most common, often the most difficult time for caregivers. "A parent at this stage is in many ways different from the person you used to know. This is tough on their adult children," says Dr. Mittelman.

All participants in this study
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Contact: Pamela McDonnell
Pamela.McDonnell@nyumc.org
212-404-3555
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine
4-Mar-2005


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