Alzheimer’s Association Education Conference
March 20-22, 2012
Christine Jensen, Ph.D., CEAHL's Director of Health Services Research, gave 3 keynote presentations in the great state of Texas.
First, she presented at the 3rd annual Brazos Valley Dementia Conference This event is sponsored by the Houston Southeast Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. The Educational Conference was held on campus at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX.
The next day she presented at the Beaumont Professional Conference in Beaumont, TX.
On the 3rd day Dr, Jensen gave the keynote presentation at the Schlicting Dementia Conference in Houston.
Dr. Jensen has kindly made her presentation available for viewing in PDF format. Click here to view.
Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving
October 24, 2012
By Christine J. Jensen, Ph.D., Director, Health Services Research, The Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging
“I found the program life-changing … what is especially good is that I now take care of me. It helped me feel brave to talk to my sister and find she shares very similar thoughts about caregiving for our mother with memory loss.” This is a statement made by a daughter caring for her mother who recently completed one of our support programs (more to come on that program shortly). I am simply amazed at the generosity, kindness, and heartfelt care that many family caregivers, such as this daughter, engage in daily to manage the care for their older loved one. They represent more than 29% of the U.S. population, or nearly 65 million persons who are caring for a chronically ill or older loved one. This means almost one-third of all U.S. households are involved in some form of elder care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recognized caregiver well-being as a major public health issue. Why? Because family members who engage in elder care tend to become so involved in their loved one’s needs (e.g., doctors’ appointments, preparing meals, managing medications), that they lose sight of their own physical, mental and social needs. Because family caregivers do so much and ask so little but deserve much better, I found it imperative that our Center, the Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging, work to bring needed resources and education to caregivers in Virginia.
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I was first exposed to a program known as “Caring For You, Caring For Me” Program (CFYCFM) when I was working on my doctorate at the University of Delaware in 2001. The program was being offered for caregivers in Delaware and Southern New Jersey. While I was impressed with the program, it wasn’t until I found myself leading the Health Services Division at our Center (in Williamsburg) that I realized we needed to bring CFYCFM to Virginia. The program utilizes an innovative approach to enhance education, support and advocacy for family, volunteer and professional caregivers. The program brings family, volunteer, and professional caregivers together to discuss coping mechanisms; exchange ideas; learn about a wide range of resources; and identify key concerns and ways to work together to enhance the quality of life for their care recipients and themselves as caregivers. Modeled on the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving’s (located in Americus, GA) “Caring for You, Caring for Me” Education and Support Program, this is a 10-hour, 5-session course offering a proven approach to improving the care and quality of life of older adults and people with disabilities, through uniquely educating, supporting and connecting all types of caregivers. The course curriculum emphasizes caregiver self-assessments of health and well-being, and actively demonstrates how caregivers can be greater advocates for themselves and their loved one(s) with dementia and other diseases through interactions with healthcare and senior service providers. Each program is supported by at least two facilitators, who are required to complete a one-day training program prior to beginning a program. CFYCFM is part of an ongoing program (established in 2009) at our Center that assesses caregiver needs and provides support group leaders with new educational approaches and resources. Caregivers are taught to seek health care, counseling, and social support whenever their self-assessment indicates such a need, and participants are provided information on community resources and services, including underutilized respite and adult day services. Due to the overwhelming amount of interest, our Center is committed to offering this program in the Hampton Roads region on an ongoing basis, with the goal of expansion across Virginia as interest grows and funding becomes available.
David Haigler, of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, traveled to Williamsburg, VA in 2009 to train 25 of the original Virginia-based facilitators. Since that time, an additional 50 facilitators have been trained by CEALH, and CEALH remains in close contact with staff at the Rosalynn Carter Institute. In fact, I’m proud to say that I was recently invited by the leadership at the Rosalynn Carter Institute (RCI) to present our work with CFYCFM in Virginia during their 25th Anniversary Summit in October. It was a pleasure to present on our work on RCI’s signature program, Caring For You, which they first established in 1996. I was also able to speak with Mrs. Carter about the impact this program has made on Virginia’s residents.
During the 25th Annual Summit of the RCI, I was fortunate enough to meet professionals from around the country. Several of these professionals presented during the Summit on topics including: engaging the faith-based community in supporting family caregivers; the state of caregiving in South Korea; legal issues in caregiving; best practices in stroke caregiving; and supporting those caring for individuals with mental health issues. The 25th Anniversary Gala Awards Banquet was particularly special and leaders from around the country (e.g., Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, Barry Peterson), via video messages, offered their congratulations to Mrs. Carter for her pioneering work in caregiving for 25 years.
Back to Virginia: More than 170 caregivers, in 12 different venues, have now completed the 5-week program. An estimated 2,700 care recipients have benefited annually, and 6,600 cumulative since program inception. Several home companion companies provide free or reduced-fee respite services to enable caregiver attendance. Goals consistently are focused on family, volunteer and professional caregivers learning from each other’s perspective, reducing their sense of isolation, increasing their ability to evaluate their own physical and mental health and social needs, and learning how to find needed support through increased knowledge of local, state, and national resources. Each caregiver is invited to complete a pre-test during the opening session to gauge caregiver needs at the outset and a post-test evaluation to determine the program’s impact at its conclusion. Evaluations are based on the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving’s evaluation form. At pre-test, 90% of caregivers report needing to improve skills in solving problems and accessing resources, and 75% report a moderate to high need to improve their confidence in caregiving skills. At post-test, 78% report their confidence levels as either very good or excellent—a substantial increase in caregiver confidence. The two highest areas of impact reported have been being better equipped to take care of oneself and gaining knowledge of community resources. Based on evaluations, caregivers continue to report reduced isolation, increased confidence in their caregiving responsibilities, and increased ability to manage their own health care. Nearly 100% of caregivers reported that they would recommend this program to others.
Perhaps our former First Lady Rosalynn Carter said it best: “There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers”. They key is that we recognize the impact caregiving has on caregivers and the value they represent as they are truly the backbone of our health care system for older adults.