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Research Offers Hope To Alzheimer's Caregivers

You've heard about the devastating impact an Alzheimer's diagnosis can have, but do you know how it affects caregivers and companions?

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Robert cares for his mother Ida, who was diagnosed with dementia 2004. Robert is able to rest and run errands thanks to Artie, a volunteer companion from The Senior Source. This is their story.

You know someone affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

A few stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the disease into perspective.

* Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.

* 14 million people are projected to be diagnosed with the disease by 2050

* It is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States

Family caretakers are an often-forgotten aspect of Alzheimer's disease.

Much of the ongoing research is focused on patients in long-term care facilities. However, many with Alzheimer’s are cared for at home by family members.

Recent research from the National Institutes of Health reports that family caregivers often suffer from chronic stress, depression and other negative health effects.

Two researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington are working to change that.

Noelle Fields and Ling Xu, assistant professors in UTA's School of Social Work, partnered with The Senior Source to develop an innovative training program for Alzheimer’s caregivers.

Drs. Fields and Xu’s research focused on increasing Alzheimer’s awareness and caregiving tactics among African-American caregivers and companions.

Historically, the African-American community has been underserved and undereducated about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. By developing a culturally tailored training program, UTA researchers were able to better address these issues.

During the month-long training, both family caregivers and volunteer companions worked through nine modules to address issues such as stigma about the disease and mistrust of health professionals.

After the monthlong training, 60 percent of the study participants reported an increase of their knowledge of Alzheimer’s.

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