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Counseling for spouses keeps Alzheimer's patients out of nursing homes

ST. PAUL, Minn Spouses of Alzheimer's disease patients are less likely to put their loved ones in a nursing home if they receive enhanced caregiver support and counseling. Researchers say their findings could potentially save millions of dollars in nursing home care costs, according to a study published in the November 14, 2006, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers studied 406 spouse caregivers in New York, NY, over a 19-year period. Half of the spouses received usual care, while the other half received enhanced counseling and support, including six sessions of individual and family counseling, support group participation, and availability of ad hoc telephone counseling.

The study found caregiver spouses who received the enhanced counseling and support intervention delayed placing their ailing spouse in a nursing home by one and a half years compared to caregiver spouses who received usual care.

"Interventions that help reduce nursing home placement without overburdening family members will be essential for our society, which is faced with a projected tripling of cases of Alzheimer's disease in the decades ahead," said Mary Mittelman, DrPH, with New York University School of Medicine. "Given the average cost of $60,000 per year for nursing home care in the United States in 2004, a delay in placement of one and half years represents about a $90,000 savings per patient."

The study also found increased satisfaction with social support and a greater tolerance for patient behavior accounted for 61 percent of the enhanced intervention's beneficial impact on delaying the placement of patients into nursing homes.

"Delaying placement was not accomplished at the expense of the caregiver's well-being. Caregivers in the treatment group were not only able to keep their spouses at home with them longer, but as a result of the intervention had greater tolerance for patient mem
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Contact: Angela Babb
ababb@aan.com
651-695-2789
American Academy of Neurology
13-Nov-2006


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