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Alzheimer caregivers: Help us help ourselves, too

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Alzheimer caregivers say their emotional and physical health along with sleep quality improved when they received a comprehensive skills training program that included a self-care component, according to a new University of Michigan study.

These caregivers felt less stressed and burdened in their caregiving role, and their loved one received better care, said Louis Burgio, a professor in the School of Social Work and study's co-author.

"When caregivers receive knowledge and skill training including positive health and health behaviors, they are able to incorporate these practices into their daily routine," said Burgio, a research professor in the Institute of Gerontology. "This not only improves their self-reported physical health, but also decreases their levels of depression and lessens the stress and burden associated with the caregiving role."

Burgio and researchers at the University of Alabama examined the outcomes from 495 caregivers who used the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregiver Health (REACH II) intervention. The invention involved nine in-home and three telephone sessions in a six-month span. In recent research, Burgio has incorporated community feedback to make the intervention more feasible for community use.

Caregivers responded to questions in four areas: self-rated health, sleep, mood improvement, and physical improvement in each category. Those involved in intervention had better results than those who did not participate in the intervention program.

The study also reported data showing racial/ethnic differences. Hispanics and whites, the study showed, were more likely to report better health after receiving the intervention than African-Americans, although all racial groups benefitted. In addition, Hispanics were less likely to report strains of caregiving before receiving the intervention, whereas whites were more likely to report higher emotional burden in caregiving roles.

The study's other authors are Amanda Elliott and Jamie DeCoster
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The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.


Burgio: http://ssw.umich.edu/about/profiles/profile-lburgio.html

School of Social Work: http://www.ssw.umich.edu/

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/117995531/home?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

BurgioSchool of Social WorkJournal of the American Geriatrics society