May 23, 2011
Family caregivers, particularly those who are caring for seniors with dementia, face potentially debilitating stress. A screening program, and professional respite care, offer support.
Q. I'm feeling so overwhelmed caring for my 85-year-old husband, who is suffering from dementia. Is there any help out there for me?
As a matter of fact, researchers from the University of Michigan have developed a new system that helps provide intervention to caregivers of patients with dementia.
"Although providing care can be rewarding, it often places caregivers at great risk for negative outcomes that also compromise the well-being of the patients with dementia," said Louis Burgio, a professor in the University of Michigan School of Social Work and research professor at the Institute of Gerontology.
Researchers analyzed data from 642 dementia caregivers who provided in-home care. They were age 21 and older, lived with or shared cooking facilities with the patient, provided at least four hours per day for at least six months, and reported distress.
The researchers identified 16 risks that are confronted most often with dementia caregivers like you as well as their care recipients. A risk appraisal measure provides information that can help clinicians tailor interventions to a caregiver's individual needs.
Researchers assessed six domains linked to caregiver risk that could respond to intervention including depression, burden, self-care and health behaviors, social support, safety, and patient problem behaviors.
Intervention strategies for each domain were devised. If a caregiver's primary problem was a feeling of extreme burden and stress, one treatment from a health care professional might involve the caregiver learning stress management techniques such as breathing exercises and stretching.
The screening form can be administered by any health care professional to the caregiver. This test could help you find out where you can use the most assistance.
A stress assessment that you can take yourself, along with tips, also is available on CareGiverStress.com. In addition, why not consider respite care at home? CAREGiversSM from Home Instead Senior Care® are trained to work with seniors who are suffering from all types of conditions including dementia. For just a few hours a week, you could have a welcome break from the stresses of caregiving.
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