Novel program enhances dementia caregivers' quality of life

rcent of African American caregivers in the intervention group, compared with 7 percent, 13 percent and 11 percent among Hispanics, whites and African Americans, respectively, in the control group.

For Hispanics, the intervention was found to be most effective in reducing depressive symptoms and problem behaviors of the care recipient. Among whites, the greatest impact was in the area of social support, and among African Americans, there were positive effects specifically in reducing the caregiver burden and improving self-care among spouse caregivers.

The research also showed that following the program, the rate of clinical depression was significantly lower among caregivers in the intervention group than those in the control group (12.6 percent and 22.7 percent, respectively). The rate of institutionalization for care recipients was lower in the intervention group when compared with the control group (4.3 percent vs. 7.2 percent), but this difference was not statistically significant.

The researchers also collected data on how study participants viewed the intervention. Caregivers in the intervention group reported that taking part in the program helped them feel more confident in working with the care recipient, made life easier for them, improved their ability to care for the person with dementia, improved the care recipient's life, and helped them keep the patient at home. Many members of the control group also said they benefited "some" or "a great deal" from participating in the study, suggesting that even minimal support and attention can help caregivers.

"REACH II was a carefully constructed, controlled study involving a diverse group of caregivers at five sites across the country. We are excited to demonstrate that the intervention really helps family members caring for people with Alzheimer's," says Sidney M. Stahl, Ph.D., chief of the Individual Behavioral Processes Branch within the NIA's Behavioral and Social Re

Contact: Susan Farrer
NIH/National Institute on Aging

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