Posts Tagged ‘dementia care’

Caregiver Stress and Depression: A Silent Health Crisis

Caregiver StressWith April comes warmer weather and sunnier days, but there also comes a time to shine a light on one of America’s biggest issues: stress. April marks National Stress Awareness Month, and as our society becomes more fast-paced, it’s important to step back and take a deep breath.

Stress management has become the focal point for many health and wellness professionals. From meditation, frequent exercise and a good night’s rest, most of us know how to handle the stressors of daily life. Knowing how to handle stress can be helpful in maintaining overall well-being.

Caregiving, while rewarding in many ways, also brings significant stress, especially when the care receiver has a dementia diagnosis.  Many lives have been changed by transitioning into a new caregiver role. Within the United States, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that dementia affects around 5 million people, a number projected to rise to 16 million by 2050. They also estimate that more than 15 million Americans are providing unpaid care to loved ones living with a dementia diagnosis. With this high of an estimate, it is crucial to learn how to properly take care of oneself as a care partner.

Caregiver Stress and Depression

When people hear about the effects of memory loss, most automatically think of the stress on those diagnosed with a type of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease. However, care partner stress also has been proven to lead to a decline in both mental and physical health. Providing care for a loved one can be challenging as is, but adding the complexities of memory loss can present its own set of unique challenges.

In a study done by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Alzheimer’s Association, 30 to 40 percent of those providing care for people with cognitive impairment showed signs of depression and extreme emotional stress. Care partners consistently report higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health issues than their non-caregiving peers. This stress can begin with a lack of knowledge or experience in caregiving. Most are ill-prepared with little to no support.

Unfortunately, this stress not only may lead to depression and anxiety but can also manifest in physical ailments as well. This is largely in part because, while caring for others, the family care partners put themselves second and don’t listen to their own bodies. Those providing care are less likely to engage in preventive health behaviors and over half reported eating and exercising habits worsening after becoming a caregiver.

Although this stress is a reality for many, caregiving doesn’t have to end in health deterioration. That’s why Emory is taking innovate steps to improve the quality of life for these dyads, the patient and care partner affected by memory loss.

Support for Caregivers and Patients with Memory Loss

Emory Brain Health Center’s Integrated Memory Care Clinic (IMCC) provides nationally recognized primary care for those living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. This clinic exists to create a space for patients with cognitive impairment to receive individualized care in one place. The goal is to alleviate stress for care partners by decreasing the number of doctor and hospital visits patients have to endure. IMCC also provides multiple educational resources to specifically serve established patients and caregivers.

When beginning to provide care for a loved one, the transition can be very lonely. That’s why IMCC provides a supportive and encouraging community for patients and their caregivers. Classes are offered at least twice a year for early, middle and late-stage dementia education. These classes help caregivers address typical questions such as assistance programs, financial issues or difficult behavior patterns in patients.

“Our various resources provide peace of mind for family care partners, knowing that this team of specialists are always ready to help,” says Laura Medders, IMCC Administrative Director, and Social Worker.

IMCC has same-day appointment availability and an after-hours call line for established patients so that care providers can feel supported at any time.

Although memory loss is extremely common, caregiver stress can go unnoticed because of the disease’s gradual changes. With dementia, patients’ cognitive decline can be slow, so many care partners may not recognize the toll that caregiving takes on their own well-being. That’s why it’s important to seek out and take advantage of community resources from the beginning. Like any other stress, self-awareness is key to management of symptoms. If you are a caregiver and have experienced extreme stress, remember to take care of yourself. If you are experiencing caregiver burnout, here are some tips that can help you manage stress.

  • Remind yourself that your work has value.
  • Find ways to mass communicate with family and friends.
  • Join a support group.
  • Invest in positive relationships.
  • Give yourself a break.
  • Talk to a health care provider about any anxiety and/or depression.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with dementia, call 404-712-6929 to schedule an appointment or visit emoryhealthcare.org/imcc for more information.

Learn more about the Integrated Memory Care Clinic

Getting Help for Dementia in Your Community

Getting Help for Dementia in Your CommunityAt Emory’s Integrated Memory Care Clinic (IMCC), we know that caring for family members or loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias can be challenging, especially on your own. Thankfully, options for care exist within the community. Different options will be right for different patients, as some patients in the early stages of dementia won’t need nearly as much assistance or supervision as people with advanced dementia. We’ve included several options for community-based care below, ranked from the options with the least restrictions that provide the lowest amount of hands-on care to those with increased security and restrictions that provide the highest level of hands-on care.

Senior Centers

The Older Americans Act (OAA), originally enacted in 1965, provides resources for Senior Centers. There are currently more than 10,000 centers in the U.S. serving more than a million adults each day. These centers offer services like meal and nutrition programs, health, fitness, and wellness programs, transportation programs, social activities, education and arts programs and public benefits counseling. These are a good option for people in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s or related dementias.

Adult Day Programs

These programs offer a place for your loved one with dementia to go, interact with others, socialize and engage. These programs typically exist in a secure environment so patients can’t wander off and leave the facility. This becomes important for patients with cognitive impairment who could become lost in unfamiliar settings. The programming at facilities like these is created specifically for people with limited attention spans and cognition, so your loved one won’t become frustrated, and will be able to enjoy the activities.

Adult Day Programs are focused either on a medical or social model. Most programs are the social version. Adult Day Programs designed with a medical model can provide a higher level of care. For example, patients experiencing urinary incontinence will typically need to be in a program with a medical model.

Hours and days of the week vary by program, some offer weekday care only and others offer care on weekends. These programs typically offer a more affordable option to in-home care, as you can expect to pay anywhere from $35-$80 a day vs. paying in-home help a higher hourly rate.

Adult Day programs help keep dementia patients in their homes longer by keeping them socially engaged and giving them a structured routine. This may help your loved one sleep better, improve their health and give caregivers like you a much-needed break.

Respite Care: Residential or in-home

Respite care is very time-limited and can happen either in-home or in a residential facility. It provides temporary care when family members or caregivers need a break, has an emergency or needs to travel. You can arrange for shifts with home care to ensure coverage while you’re gone, and some assisted living or personal care homes do offer respite care in their facility. In this scenario, the patient would move into the community for a set amount of time, sometimes into a fully furnished room. Expect to pay for this out of pocket.

Assisted Living/Personal Care Home

These facilities can vary in size and in the level of care they provide. They can be large 100-apartment senior living communities or small 4-bed home with one person providing care. The biggest difference between the two is the ability of assisted living facilities to provide more help for people needing a higher level of care. And while these facilities can provide care for a loved one who needs more socialization or is difficult to care for at home, they still feel like homes, not skilled nursing communities. Larger communities can have activity directors with daily programming. These homes can have secure memory care units that include extra staff and increased security.

Skilled Nursing

Long-Term Skilled Nursing facilities (SNF) provide nursing home level care and are staffed by nurses and a medical director. These are usually the last option for many families, but they can be the best option for medically complicated patients or patients who can’t walk, transfer and ambulate. For bed-bound patients living outside their home, this level of care is almost required.

When IMCC patients move to Long-Term skilled nursing facilities like these, we transfer their medical care to the facility. From that point on, the SNF medical director manages all of the patient’s care. Medicare does not cover custodial care, and it can be expensive. Medicaid can pay for care in a skilled nursing facility. This can become the only option available for many families.

Use the link below or call 404-712-6929 to learn more about how the Integrated Memory Care Clinic can help.

Learn more about the Integrated Memory Care Clinic


The Integrated Memory Care Clinic

The Integrated Memory Care Clinic (IMCC) is a nationally recognized patient-centered medical home that provides primary care individualized for someone living with dementia and is designed to replace your current primary care provider. Our goal is to provide the best dementia-sensitive primary care. If you’d like to learn more about the IMCC, or think one of your patients or family members could benefit from our services, please contact our patient services coordinator at 404-712-6929.

To learn more, please visit Integrated Memory Care Clinic.