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VA Cultivating Access to Resources, Education, and Skills for Dementia Caregivers (VA CARES)


The purpose of this study is to study the effects of an education and skill-building intervention on family caregivers of veterans with dementia.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
18 Years N/A Both Yes
February 2014
December 2019

  • Caregiver distress associated with being the primary caregiver for a veteran family member with dementia
  • Caregiver reporting at least two of the following six items at initial assessment: feeling overwhelmed, feeling a frequent need to cry, anger or frustration, feeling cut off from family or friends, moderate to high levels of general stress, and a decline in health
  • Provided at least 1 hour of care (supervision or direct assistance) per week over the past 3 months (other sources of caregiving for the veteran with dementia, such as respite care, home health aide, or other family members may be used)
  • Proficient in spoken and written English

  • Current or lifetime history of any psychiatric disorder with psychotic features
  • Prominent suicidal or homicidal ideation
  • Meet DSM-IV criteria for drug or alcohol abuse or dependence (except nicotine) within the past 6 months; presence of alcohol intoxication (by breathalyzer) or alcohol withdrawal (by exam) during study recruitment or participation
  • Diagnosis of probable or possible dementia; Telephone Cognitive Screen score of < 20
  • Participation in another caregiver intervention within the past year
  • Lack of regular access to a telephone
  • Illness that would prevent 2 years of study participation
  • Planned transfer of care to another caregiver or nursing home within 12 months

According to VA estimates, nearly 500,000 veterans suffer from dementia, which has a large impact on the quality of life of veterans and their families. To try to decrease the burden on both, this study will test a caregiver intervention called Cultivating Access to Resources, Education, and Skills for Dementia Caregivers (VA CARES). Caregivers will attend four, 90-minute sessions over 4 to 6 weeks to learn about dementia and build caregiving skills. Some caregivers will attend in person, while those in rural areas who do not have easy access to major VA medical centers will use video telehealth technology. These four sessions will be supplemented with booster sessions at 3 and 9 months post-intervention. A control group of caregivers will receive supplemental educational materials related to aging and dementia but not the test intervention. Researchers will look for changes in veterans' and caregivers' quality of life, symptoms of depression, and long-term care placement.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA
Palo Alto California 94304-1290 Recruiting Blake K Scanlon, PhD

Department of Veterans Affairs

Name Role Affiliation
Blake K. Scanlon, PhD Principal Investigator VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Name Phone Email
Blake K. Scanlon, PhD 650-493-5000
Jacob C. Urbassik 650-849-0481


Dementia Caregiver Rehabilitation: Enhancing Veteran and Family-Centered Care