Nursing home admission can be delayed in Alzheimer's caregivers get counseling

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Reported by Susan Aldridge, PhD, medical journalist

Counseling caregivers helps keep people with Alzheimer’s disease at home for longer.
Looking after a relative with Alzheimer’s disease is stressful and when it becomes too much the patient may need to be admitted to a nursing home. Now a team at the University of South Florida and colleagues elsewhere prove that counseling can delay nursing home placement and also lift the spirits of the caregiver.

They studied a group of caregivers looking after people with Alzheimer’s disease. They either received counseling in addition to usual support or just the usual support. The counseling consisted of two individual and four family sessions, followed up with telephone counseling and group meetings. The caregivers were advised on how to cope with difficult behavior and how to promote better communication within the family.

Where the caregiver had counseling, nursing home admission was delayed, on average, by 1.5 years. There were also improvements in caregiver depression levels. Since nursing home care is expensive, caregiver counseling sounds like a cost effective intervention for those looking after people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Neurology November 2006

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