You are the primary caregiver for a Veteran family member who has dementia.
Over the last three months, you have provided at least one hour of care per week for your Veteran family member with dementia.
You have distress associated with caregiving, such as feeling overwhelmed, like you often need to cry, angry or frustrated, cut off from family or friends, stressed, or have experienced a decline in your own health.
You may not be eligible for this study if:
You have dementia.
You have a serious psychiatric condition, such as psychosis, suicidality / homicidality, or dependence on drugs or alcohol.
You are under the influence of alcohol during any of the study activities.
You are unlikely to complete the full 24 months of the study, for example due to chronic illness.
The Veteran family member that you provide care for is planned to enter a nursing home, or to have a new caregiver, within the next 12 months.
You have participated in another caregiver treatment study within the past year.
You do not have regular access to a telephone.
About the Study:
According to VA estimates, nearly 500,000 Veterans suffer from dementia. There is currently no cure for dementia. Ultimately, dementia will have a large impact on quality of life in Veterans and families, lead to expensive nursing home placement, and decrease life expectancy for patients and family caregivers. The experience of high burden in a caregiver for a Veteran with dementia increases the likelihood of permanent nursing home placement and can separate Veterans from their families. To address the high burden of caring for a Veteran with dementia, we aim to study the effect of a rehabilitative intervention for family caregivers of Veterans with dementia. Our novel approach will use video technology that can reach caregivers in rural areas who do not have easy access to major VA medical centers.
The purpose of this study is to study the effects of an education and skill-building intervention on family caregivers of Veterans with dementia.
What is Involved:
Caregivers will be randomly assigned to either receive paper educational materials related to dementia and caregiving or participate in a brief series of education and skill sessions led by a dementia expert. The training program consists of four weekly sessions followed by additional booster sessions 3 and 9 months later. During these sessions, caregivers will learn about dementia and the diseases that cause it, learn ways to help cope with the stress of caring for a loved one with dementia, build communication skills, and be connected to various resources available to caregivers both within the VA and through other local and national organizations. We will follow up with caregiver participants for assessments 6-months, 12 months, and 24 months later. There is no cost to caregivers for participation. Caregivers will be reimbursed $25 for each session and assessment, with total compensation ranging from $100-$250.