According to a study in 2015, family caregivers are almost two times more likely to have emotional and physical problems than other U.S. adults, and three times more likely to have productivity problems at work. There are many advancements aimed at helping caregivers such as respite programs and caregiver coaching.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.’s Just Us program gives adults with memory loss and their caregivers a chance to discuss and explore works of art in a small group setting. The adults recognize the emotions portrayed in the paintings and are able to discuss their feelings.
Carolyn Haplin-Healy is the executive director of Arts & Minds program for caregivers and patients at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She states that involvement with arts improves a person’s well-being. “In our own research for persons with dementia, we see a reduction in apathy. For caregivers, we see less isolation and a reduction in stress," she says.
Jason Resendez is the executive director of the Latino’s Against Alzheimer's Coalition. He states about eight million Latinos are caregivers for their family members. To bring some of those caregivers together Latino groups partnered together to produce a comedic play. The Latino Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders Alliance in Chicago holds caregiver trainings and free dance classes.
Caregiver coaches help with food, medicine and video training for how to do medical procedures, and help solve issues like how to get patients to appointments with doctors.
Dr. Eric Coleman, a gerontologist, created the Care Transitions Intervention model. The national program is based is based at the University of Colorado in Denver. The program trains coaches (usually social workers, nurses, or other professionals hired by hospitals or other facilities) to help caregivers ease the transition of a patient to home care.
Coaches talk to the caregiver before the patient is discharged from the hospital. Then they have a one-hour coaching session at the patient’s home and three follow-up phone calls. "We tell people that for the next 24 to 48 hours, here are key things you need to do. Then we follow up at home," says Eric. He states that studies show transition coaches can drop readmission to hospitals by 20 to 50 percent.
“Caregivers do more than make meals; they also perform medical tasks, like giving medicine, taking blood pressure, changing bandages and more. Yet they receive virtually no training.”
Dignity Health Systems, a large nonprofit hospital company in California, is partnering with the nonprofit Santa Barbara Foundation to provide caregiver coaches. Kathleen Sullivan, vice president of acute care services for Dignity, states caregivers are now identified as a part of Dignity’s health team. Caregivers are given a badge, tote bag with information, and the hospital knows who to contact.
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