Caregiver & Elder Care News
Simple Telephone Support a Great Relief for Caregivers of Dementia
Program potentially less expensive than in-person
treatment options, more convenient for many caregivers
30, 2014 – Caregivers for dementia patients must deal with enormous
stress and many suffer depression. A new study has found, however, that
a support program simply by telephone can significantly reduce
depression and other problems for informal caregivers, such as family or
friends, and is as effective as face-to-face intervention programs.
"Those caring for people with Alzheimer's disease
or other forms of dementia are often under a great deal of pressure,"
said principal investigator Geoffrey Tremont, Ph.D, of the division of
neuropsychology in the department of psychiatry at Rhode Island
"This pressure and stress can lead to depression in
the caregiver, or to negative reactions, or even to behavior problems
exhibited by the individual with dementia."
He continued, "Many of these caregivers have
trouble finding time to take care of themselves, allowing their own
physical and mental health issues to fester. By providing these
caregivers with the option of a telephone-based support program, we are
able to bring the help right to them, rather than requiring the
caregivers to take time away from their loved one to attend a support
group or other appointment."
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The study by Rhode Island Hospital researchers is
published online in advance of print in the journal
Alzheimer's & Dementia.
The study concluded that an entirely
telephone-based intervention improves caregivers' depressive symptoms
and reactions to behavior problems in the care recipient and is
comparable with reported results of face-to-face interventions.
Caregivers received 16 telephone contacts over 6 months in the program.
A telephone-based support program is also
potentially less expensive than in-person treatment options, and often
more convenient for caregivers. While previous studies have shown that
caregivers benefit from programs such as in-person support/group therapy
sessions, this is the first such study to present data supporting a
program that is delivered only by telephone.
"The number of people diagnosed with some form of
dementia continues to rise," Tremont said, "and with that comes an
increased need for caregivers, who often are family members. It's a lot
to take on, and a great deal is expected from these caregivers. If we
don't help them take care of themselves, in an easy and convenient
manner, there could be negative health consequences for the caregiver,
and ultimately the individual with dementia."
According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are
5 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's, and it is the country's
sixth leading cause of death. More than 15 million family and friends
provide care for those with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia,
resulting in 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care each year.
The study was funded in part by a grant from the
National Institute of Nursing Research awarded to Geoffrey Tremont,
Ph.D. Tremont's principal affiliation is Rhode Island Hospital, a member
hospital of the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island. He also holds an
academic appointment at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown
Other Lifespan and Brown University researchers
involved in the study are Jennifer Davis, Ph.D., Brian Ott, M.D., Kim
Bryant, Christine Grover, Duane Bishop, M.D., George D. Papandonatos,
Ph.D., Mun Sang Yue, and Pedro Gozalo, Ph.D.; as well as Richard
Fortinsky, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital in
Providence, R.I., is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is the
principal teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown
University. For more information visit