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A Family Intervention to Delay Nursing Home Placement of Patients with Alzheimer Disease

December 1996

Mary S. Mittelman, Steven H. Ferris, Emma Shulman, Gertrude Steinberg, Bruce Levin


This experiment randomly assigned spousal caregivers (to spouses with Alzheimer’s) into a control and treatment group. The caregivers in the treatment group attended six counseling sessions that included support, techniques, and problem solving to aid in caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s. Results show that caregivers receiving the counseling were only 2/3 as likely to place spouses in nursing-homes at any time compared to the control group. Further, patients in the treatment group spent an average of 329 more days at home than those in the control group.

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Policy Implications

Counseling spousal caregivers appears to be an effective way to decrease utilization of nursing homes for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. 6 counseling sessions reduced nursing-home stays by an average of 329 days, making a policy of counseling likely very cost effective.

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