PHOENIX — The baby boomer population is rapidly aging and as more people in it rely on loved ones to care for them, researchers at Arizona State University say there’s a way for caregivers to answer to the call while keeping up their own mental health.
Arizona has the fifth largest aging population in the United States, according to ASU nursing professor David Coon.
“We know by 2025, we’re going to be the second in terms of proportion increase of people with dementia in the United States,” Coon said.
Coon is the principal investigator of the Early-Stage Partners in Care trial, or EPIC. The study designs interventions to help people caring for relatives with dementia put together a plan.
“Really helping to hear the voice of the early-stage (memory loss) individual and have that voice translated into care plans that are meaningful for them, so that the care partner in the future doesn't have to guess what that individual would want,” Coon said.
He said watching a loved one’s health deteriorate often leads to poor health for the caregiver as they obsess with trying to find solutions when the illness is in more advance changes.
“It’s really not a good idea to withdraw from your own world and become absorbed solely in helping your loved one because that encourages depression and anxiety,” Coon said.
Over the last three years, the EPIC trial showed promise in the short-term, Coon said.
“We have seen reduction in depressive symptoms of not only the care partner, but the early-stage individual,” Coon said.
You can click here for more information on the EPIC trial.