News Release

PO 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
Christine Grant
Commissioner
For Release:
August 1, 2000
For Further Information Contact:
Rita Manno
Dennis McGowan
609-984-7160
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State Looking for Volunteers for Study on Caregiving

TRENTON -- The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is recruiting caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia to volunteer for a research study evaluating the effect various services have on such families.

The five-year study to run through May 2004 is being conducted in partnership with Penn State University and will look at the impact adult day care and other respite services have on persons with dementia and their primary family caregivers.

"New Jersey is on the cutting edge of caregiving research and services," said Commissioner Christine Grant. "This project will give us a clearer picture on what services help caregivers and seniors. The lessons learned will help us with program design and public health policy decisions."

The study is one of numerous recommendations made by the New Jersey Advisory Council on Elder Care created by Gov. Christie Whitman in 1998. The council, chaired by Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, held public hearings throughout the state to gather and evaluate information on current and future needs of older adults and their caregivers.

The study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. It expands earlier research conducted by the department and university that showed family caregivers who enrolled a relative with dementia in an adult day care program experienced significant reductions in care-related stress. Those caregivers had lower feelings of depression and anger than a control group that did not use adult day care services and, although it was not part of that study's focus, caregivers also reported improvements in care-recipient behavior after they participated in adult day care programs.

"Our earlier research clearly shows that using adult day care reduces the burden of care on families," said Dr. Steven Zarit of Penn State University, who will head the new study. "Unfortunately too many families wait too long to use day care and respite services. This study will shed more light on the impact of these important services."

Researchers hope to learn if their earlier finding that participation in adult day care programs had a positive impact on participant behavior can be more fully documented. They also will examine whether the provision of day care and in-home respite services reduces the use of medical services by caregivers and their relatives with dementia.

Participants will be expected to complete several in-home interviews and a series of telephone calls over a one-year period. Participating family caregivers will receive a small stipend for their time and effort.

For additional information or to make referrals for the study, please call the Department of Health and Senior Services' Wellness and Family Support Program at 609-588-3466.

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