Program Enhances Dementia Caregivers' Quality of Life
A versatile personalized intervention can improve the quality of life for caregivers of people with dementia, according to a study funded by both the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research.
Akinso: A versatile personalized intervention can improve the quality of life for caregivers of people with dementia, according to a study funded by both the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research. The Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregiver Health II study, known as REACH II, is the first randomized, controlled study to thoroughly look at the effectiveness of a multi-component caregiver intervention provided to ethnically diverse populations. Dr. Sidney Stahl, chief of the Individual Behavioral Processes Branch within the NIA's Behavioral and Social Research program said the study suggests that a tailored, intervention can make a positive, meaningful difference in caregivers' lives.
Stahl: Among the most interesting findings was that the rate of clinical depression; which is a real problem in caregivers, was significantly lower in the caregivers than it was in the intervention group. Depression on the caregivers that did not get an intervention was almost 23 percent, whereas in the caregivers with the intervention it was only 13 percent. And the other interesting finding, although it was not statically significant, was that institutionalization among the dementia patients was lower in the intervention group than it was in the control group but it was not significant. And the reason for that was probably because there wasn't enough time in the study to follow-up on the institutional rates for the victims of dementia.
Akinso: The REACH II study included 642 individuals, more than 200 each of Hispanic, white and African American caregivers of persons with dementia. The caregivers within each ethnic group were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group. According to Dr. Stahl many members of the control group said they benefited some or a great deal from participating in the study.
Stahl: One of the things that is likely to come from this is to have a relatively inexpensive and effective intervention that can be used in the community, by community servicing agencies, that will help relieve the depression and burden of care giving on the caregivers of Alzheimer's victims. And that would be a major breakthrough. These are terribly isolated people who often lack social support. They're also typically the same age as the Alzheimer's patient, so they're not getting any younger themselves. The burden of their own aging plus the exceptional burden of caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease is profound. It's got to be a tragedy watching one's loved one slowly become "not themselves" any longer.
Akinso: According to Dr. Stahl, the study was developed based on the findings of the earlier REACH I study, which tested multiple interventions at six sites in the US to identify the most promising approaches to decrease caregiver burden and depression. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.