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Helping Those Who Help Alzheimer's Patients

Online program offers support for caregivers

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 9, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- An interactive program to help people caring for a family member with Alzheimer's disease is now available from the University of Florida.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Online, the first program of its kind, is staffed by university psychology professionals who do live, interactive classes on topics such as stress management, understanding and dealing with memory loss, and managing difficult caregiver tasks.

There's also a message board and regular telephone conferences with Alzheimer's experts so that caregivers from around the world can exchange comments and ask questions.

The program is available online here, or you can call toll-free at 1-866-260-2466.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Online was actually launched a year ago and promoted mainly to Florida residents. It proved a huge success. More than 2,400 people used the program's Web and phone services each month.

Based on that success, the university recently created a Spanish version of the program, also available here. It's the only exclusively Spanish site of its kind in the United States.

About 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and more than seven out of 10 of them live at home. Almost 75 percent of home care for people with Alzheimer's disease is provided by family and friends.

"Taking care of an older person with Alzheimer's typically includes managing potentially injurious behavior to self or others, issuing frequent reminders, and monitoring hygiene and self-care activities," says Robert Glueckauf, a professor of clinical and health psychology at the university.

"Unfortunately, such intensive activities are performed at a high cost to caregivers in terms of physical, financial and psychological resources. Caregivers typically experience reduced social activities, disrupted household routine and relationships, and deterioration of physical and mental health," Glueckauf says.

He designed the program to fill the large gap between caregivers' needs and the resources available to help them look after a family member with Alzheimer's.

More information

There's more about Alzheimer's disease at the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

SOURCE: University of Florida, news release, September 2002
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