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Ohio Department of Aging Aging Connection

Aging Connection

CONNECT TO | Programs & Benefits
March 2010

Reducing Disability In Alzheimer's Disease
Helping People with Alzheimer's and Their Caregivers

The Ohio Department of Aging, in collaboration with area agencies on aging, local Alzheimer's Association chapters, senior services providers and evaluators from the Margaret Blenkner Research Institute of the Benjamin Rose Institute have developed a pilot project, called Reducing Disability in Alzheimer's Disease (RDAD), in the Alzheimer's Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter's 24-county service area, which it shares with area agencies on aging in Toledo, Lima and Mansfield.

Reducing Disability In Alzheimer's Disease

RDAD provides exercise training for people with Alzheimer's disease who live at home, while at the same time training their family caregivers about how to manage behavioral symptoms. It reduces behavioral symptoms and depression and improves the participants' physical functioning. RDAD is funded through the U.S. Administration of Aging's Alzheimer's Disease Supportive Services Program.

Currently, the Northwest Ohio Alzheimer's Chapter has 75 active participants. In 2010, the program will expand to include the Alzheimer's Association chapters that serve the Akron/Youngtown, Columbus and Dayton regions.

The RDAD program, developed by Linda Teri, PhD., at the University of Washington, is delivered by home health professionals, nurses and social workers in the care recipient's home. It includes twelve one-hour sessions over an 11-week period and three follow-up sessions over the following three months.

Between 40 and 70 percent of caregivers show clinically significant symptoms of depression, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. And about one in 10 caregivers report that their responsibilities have caused their physical health to worsen, according to the Center on Aging Society. Research has shown that caregivers benefit from training and support groups and that participation in these groups allows caregivers to care for their loved one at home longer. The behavior management component of the RDAD program includes training for family caregivers about dementia, its impact on patient behavior and how to identify and modify behavioral symptoms. Family caregivers also are taught strategies to deal with their own responses to the symptoms, and to identify pleasant activities for the care recipient.

People who exercise regularly improve their strength and balance, making them less apt to fall and suffer fractures or other accidents. Regular exercise also increases flexibility and strengthens bones. Studies have shown that most older people, even those with illnesses or disabilities, can take part in moderate exercise programs. The exercise component of the RDAD program includes 30 minutes of aerobic and endurance activities, with strength, balance and flexibility training for the person with Alzheimer's disease. Caregivers often participate in the exercise component, creating a bonding, enjoyable activity.

Behavioral symptoms and fall-related fractures often result in nursing home placement for people with Alzheimer's disease. By focusing on both the physical and behavioral aspects, nursing home placement for people with Alzheimer's disease can be prevented or delayed.

For more information about the RDAD program, contact the Alzheimer's Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter at (419) 537-1999 or the Alzheimer's 24-hour hot line at 1-800-272-3900.

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