Magazine article Aging Today

Alzheimer's Studies on Depression, Diabetes

Magazine article Aging Today

Alzheimer's Studies on Depression, Diabetes

Article excerpt

Two studies released in May by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) examine the dynamics of Alzheimer's disease from two markedly different but significant angles: the effects of untreated depression on caregivers of people with dementia, and the increased risk of developing Alzheimer's among people with diabetes mellitus.

Mary Mittelman and colleagues at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City reported in the May 1, 2004, issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry that short-term intensive counseling in conjunction with readily available support can significantly reduce the long-term risk of depression among husbands and wives caring for spouses with Alzheimer's disease.

Mittelman and her colleagues followed 406 participants in the NYU Spouse-Caregiver Intervention Study, "the longest-running study of an intervention for family caregivers of people with Alzheimer's disease," according to NIA, which funded the research. Half of the spouse-caregivers participated in two individual and four family counseling sessions soon after enrolling in the study. They also attended weekly support groups. After the initial period of intensive counseling, the caregivers and their families were encouraged on an ongoing basis to contact counselors to help them cope with crises and other issues related to caring for someone with Alzheimer's. These caregivers were compared with a control group of spouses assigned to receive the usual support services for families of dementia patients at the center. Both groups of spouse-caregivers were followed regularly until two years after the death of their husband or wife, or until participation in the study ended. …

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