One of the most exciting things about the response to the SLHI Innovation Grant RFP was the variety of populations that would be served by different proposals. Grant awardee Hospice of the Valley (HOV) recognizes the challenge of caring for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and decided to address this issue by implementing an innovative program to develop resilience in this population of caregivers.
The Palliative Care for Dementia (PDC) program is a new development at HOV, and it is meant to provide education and support to caregivers of persons with dementia in order to keep people with dementia in the home with family as long as possible. Although this program has been helpful and very well received, HOV realized that a caregiver’s ability to keep a family member at home depends not just on education, but even more on the caregiver’s ability to deal with the unique stresses of caring for someone with dementia.
With this in mind, HOV proposed to include Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), an evidence-based method to improve individuals’ health and well-being, to the current PDC program. During eight-week sessions of one 2 1/2 hour class each week, three groups of participants will learn to respond more skillfully to stress in their everyday lives, lessening the incidence of chronic disease and depression that many caregivers currently experience. In addition, HOV has anticipated the need for a place where caregivers can leave their loved ones while in class, and will provide care for the persons with dementia at HOV’s Gardiner Home, just a few feet away from where their caregivers are in class learning.
By decreasing stress and depression for family caregivers, the goal of MBSR is to allow them to care for their loved ones at home for a longer period of time, avoiding costly hospital care and institutional placement. This innovative, low-tech, low-cost approach to achieving high-impact results for the growing number of people in our community who are caring for a family member with dementia is one more step to improving the health and resiliency of Arizonans.
Read more about Hospice of the Valley’s work.