Alzheimer's Families Find Ways to Cope
HealthSCOUT - March 25, 2005
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be devastating for patients and their loved ones.
Now, researchers at the New York University School of Medicine are conducting three studies to determine whether short-term counseling can reduce disease-linked psychological stress and depression among Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
The studies were prompted by the success of a previous study at the NYU School of Medicine that concluded that even a brief period of counseling can provide long-term benefits for the emotional health of people taking care of spouses with Alzheimer’s.
People who act as primary caregivers often suffer stress, depression and other emotional difficulties due to the constant high levels of care required by Alzheimer’s patients, Mary Mittelman, director of the Psychological Research and Support Program at the NYU School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.
One of the three new studies will include individuals caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease, while a second study will focus on people looking after a parent in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s, when behavioral problems are most common. This is often the most trying period for caregivers, Mittelman said.
"A parent at this stage is in many ways different from the person you used to know. This is tough on their adult children," she explained.
The third study will provide couples counseling for patients diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s and their respective spouses. Alzheimer’s can test even the strongest relationships, the researchers point out.
"People have traditionally been treated separately, with the spouse in one room and the person with Alzheimer’s in another, but they have to go home and live together afterwards, so we’re trying to help them do that," Mittelman explained.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about caring for Alzheimer’s patients.