ASU PROF’S STUDY TOUTS CAREGIVER INTERVENTION
A study co-authored by Arizona State University West associate professor of psychology David Coon showed a significant drop in depression rates among caregivers who received an individualized intervention designed to address the ways caring for a relative with dementia can take its toll.
The study, coordinated at the University of Pittsburgh, is the first large, well-controlled caregiver study of its kind and was delivered to more than 600 family caregivers from three diverse racial/ethnic caregiver groups: Hispanic/Latino, White/Caucasian and Black/African-American. The study was designed to help reduce dementia patient problem behaviors, reduce caregiver depression and burden, and increase caregiver self-care and social support.
The multi-component intervention featured a certified interventionist who provided one-on-one sessions combined with telephone support groups over six months. The interventionist used strategies such as role playing, problem solving, skill training and stress management to address five areas in which caregivers commonly experience problems and that are central to a caregiver’s quality of life. These key areas include depression, caregiver burden and stress, attention to personal health needs, social support, and problem behaviors exhibited by the care recipient. Based on the intensity with which each caregiver experienced problems in those areas, the intervention was tailored to meet the individual needs.
Coon is working with health care organizations on two projects that serve families caring for older adults with memory problems.
The Assisting Latino Caregivers Project provides free educational, skill-building, and supportive services to Latino family caregivers, and provides the opportunity to meet other caregivers. The Caregiver Health and Wellness Project involves a personal interview with both Latino and Anglo/White caregivers who have their own chronic health conditions (overweight, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure). Participants in the Caregiver Health and Wellness Project are also offered a free workshop focused on strategies to enhance caregiver well-being and reduce caregiver stress.