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March 27, 2015

UVA Memory Experts Receive Grant to Aid Caregivers of Dementia Patients

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., March 27, 2015 – A new study at the UVA Health System’s Memory and Aging Care Clinic (MACC) tests an intervention that aims to create better health and a more supportive environment for both dementia patients and their caregivers.

“Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory disorder can be incredibly difficult for everyone involved,” said Scott Sperling, Psy.D., the clinical director of the UVA study and a neuropsychologist at the MACC. “We hope to bring some evidence-based counseling techniques to the table that may ultimately lead to greater health for both caregiver and patient.”

The FAMILIES study, which stands for Family Access to Memory Impairment and Loss Information, Engagement and Supports, will consist of multiple counseling sessions with each patient’s primary caregiver and associated support network.

Counselors with special training in memory disorders and caregiver support will continue to offer guidance and support resources following the initial sessions.

The counselors will aim to develop a custom care plan for caregivers to offer education around the disease process, assist with stress management and potentially broaden their support systems and access to community resources.

The researchers’ goal is to aid caregivers by reducing stress, easing depression, improving caregiving skills and leading to a greater understanding of memory disorders.

Sperling says healthier and happier caregivers may ultimately lead to a more positive environment for those suffering from memory disorders.

The FAMILIES program is funded by a three-year, $441,131 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Community Living, the Administration on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Disease Supportive Services Program.

UVA, which is one of two health systems in the state receiving funding for the study, is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association of Central and Western Virginia and the Jefferson Area Board for Aging to run the research program.

UVA researchers are currently enrolling caregivers who meet certain criteria into the program.

Those interested in learning more about the no-cost study can call 434.982.4004.

IRB-HSR # 17924

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