Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

Caregiving award recognizes two NIA-supported programs

April 15, 2009

The Rosalyn Carter Leadership in Caregiving Award is among the most prestigious awards in the caregiving field. This award, presented annually by the Rosalyn Carter Institute of Caregiving, recognizes programs that develop and implement innovative approaches to promote collaborations between community agencies and caregiving researchers that bridge the gap between science and practice.

One of two 2008 awards recognizes the REACH VA program, implemented by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Geriatrics and Extended Care Unit in partnership with the Memphis VA Medical Center. REACH VA focuses on "education, safety for the patient, support for the caregiver, and skills building to help caregivers manage difficult patient behaviors and decrease their own stress." The goal of REACH VA is "to implement an effective intervention to decrease caregiver stress and improve the management of patient behaviors throughout the VHA system."

REACH VA is the first national clinical translation of a proven dementia behavioral intervention, REACH II (Resources for Advancing Alzheimer's Caregiver Health). REACH II is a social and behavioral research effort funded by NIA and the National Institute of Nursing Research. The goal of REACH II is to translate the results of research in caregiver support into evidence-based community practices. REACH VA has made it possible to broadly implement the findings from the REACH II research project. Clinical staffs from VA Home-Based Primary Care programs in 36 cities and 19 states have volunteered to learn and deliver the intervention to caregivers of dementia patients.

The second winner of the 2008 award is Minnesota's NYU Caregiver Intervention Project, designed and implemented by the Minnesota Board on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association Minnesota/North Dakota Chapter, in partnership with New York University's Dr. Mary Mittelman and Cynthia Epstein. The goals of the project are to develop and improve appropriate supportive services for people with Alzheimer's disease and to integrate these services into long-term care-, home-, and community-based systems. The project uses the care model developed by Dr. Mittelman and funded in part by NIA. In the journal Neurology, Dr. Mittelman and colleagues report that nursing home placement for patients with AD who received their care intervention was delayed a median of 557 days, due in large part to improvements in caregiver social support, learned responses to patient behavior problems, and symptoms of depression.

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