Objective: The long-term effect of counseling and support on symptoms of de - pression was exam ined in spouse-caregivers of patients w ith A lzh eim er’s disease. Method: The participants were 406 spousecaregivers of A lzh eim er’s disease patients who lived at home at baseline. The caregivers were randomly assigned to eith er a group receiving enhanced counseling and support treatmentora group receiving usual care (control group). Caregivers in th e enhanced tre a tm e n t group w ere provided w ith six sessions of individual and fam ily counseling, agreed to join support groups 4 months afteren rollment, and received ongoing ad hoc counseling. The G eriatric D epression Scale was a d m in is - tered at baseline and at regular follow -up intervals for as long as th e caregiver participated in th e study. Results: After baselin e differences w ere controlled for, caregivers in th e enhanced treatment group had significantly fewer depressive sym ptom s after the interven - tion th an did the control subjects. These effects were sustained fo r 3.1 years after baselin e, s im ilar across genderandpa - tient severity level, and sustained after nursing home placementor death of the patient. Conclusions: Counselingand support lead to s u stained benefits in reducing depressive sym ptom s in spouse-caregivers of A lz h e im e r’s disease p atien ts and should be w idely available to provide e ffective, evidence-based in te rvention for family caregivers.
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