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Enhancing the Health of Alzheimer's Caregivers

The REACH Program Improves the Health of Informal Caregivers of Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a brain disorder that causes a deterioration of memory and thinking skills. Individuals with AD often display progressive cognitive decline and unpredictable behaviors.
  • More than 70% of the 4.5 million individuals in the U.S. with AD live at home, with a spouse, other family member, or friend serving as an informal caregiver. The constant demands of providing care for someone with AD can take a toll on the mental and physical health of the caregiver.
  • The Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) program was developed to assist AD caregivers. The REACH program taught caregivers about AD, along with strategies to help them manage troublesome behaviors of the care recipients. It also emphasized ways for caregivers to manage stress, maintain their social support groups, and enhance their own health and self-care activities.
  • In a multisite study involving almost 500 AD caregivers, those who received the REACH intervention reported better physical, emotional, and overall health compared to those who received a packet of basic AD educational materials. 
  • In addition, the REACH caregivers had lower scores for depression, which contributed to reducing their sense of caregiving burden.
  • These findings indicate that the REACH program, by providing information about both AD and self-care, helped AD caregivers maintain their own physical, emotional, and mental well-being.        

Elliott AF, Burgio LD, DeCoster J. Enhancing caregiver health: findings from the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health II Intervention. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society . 2010; 58 : 30-37. 

Funding for REACH was provided by NINR (grant # U01 NR04261) and the National Institute on Aging (grant #s U01 AG013305, U01 AG013289, U01 AG013313, U01 AG13265).

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