Woman on couch holding pill bottle has conversation with loved one

A $275,000 National Institute of Health grant could help senior service nonprofit LeadingAge extend lifelines to long-distance caregivers of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The two-year grant will help researchers at LeadingAge’s LTSS Center at the University of Massachusetts at Boston develop and test interventions to support long-distance caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients who live in the community and receive non-medical services.

A study by LTSS researchers published in The Gerontologist last summer showed that long-distance caregivers offer assistance that is similar to assistance provided by caregivers who live close to dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. However, the distance adds an extra layer of complexity to the caregiving role that can intensify the stress and burden of caregiving. The researchers reported that those caregivers could benefit from supportive services as they cope with this added burden.

LTSS researchers estimate that 11% of family caregivers live more than two hours from the care recipients, and more than half were primary caregivers. 

During the first phase of the NIH study, researchers will work with an advisory committee of caregiving experts to modify the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health intervention to address unique challenges facing long-distance caregivers. That effort will result in a training manual for caregivers. During the study’s second phase, a sample group of 40 long-distance caregivers and their care recipients will help researchers develop interventions.