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Expert Alert

As dementia rates rise in U.S., U of M expert discusses impact of stress on caregivers

May 22, 2012

As the baby boomer generation begins to age, the United States is beginning to see a rise in the number of people being diagnosed with dementia. For many persons with dementia, the main source of long-term care is not a nursing home or an in-home health aide, but family members.

A University of Minnesota expert that can discuss the rise of dementia in the U.S. and the stress placed on caregivers of dementia patients is:

Joseph Gaugler, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Nursing and Center on Aging

“The reason people are being confronted with dementia now more than ever is because a large part of our population is getting old,” Gaugler said. “Simply put, people are living longer lives, and the fastest growing segment of our population is the group over the age of 80.”

Over 5.2 million people, or one in eight Americans age 65 or older, have Alzheimer’s—a type of dementia—in the U.S. today.

This rapidly-growing population is requiring more medical attention from doctors and loved ones. The addition of caregiving for family members can add stress to already demanding lives.

Although many caregivers are relieved when they no longer have to provide hands-on care, some experience immense amounts of distress when their loved one is admitted to a nursing home or an assisted-living community.

“We have seen caregivers who are at risk for clinical levels of depression and stress after their relatives enter a home,” said Gaugler. “The next step is to create psycho-social programs to help these caregivers.”

Gaugler’s research has shown that caregivers receiving comprehensive support are much less likely to admit loved ones to residential long-term care. Consultation sessions for adult children, support groups and a professional on-call to answer caregivers’ questions can help keep those suffering from dementia in the home, which is often desirable for the person suffering from dementia and their caregiving families.

To learn more about caregiving:

From 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 2, the School of Nursing will be hosting the Caring for a Person with Memory Loss Conference at Mayo Memorial Auditorium, 420 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis. This event will provide information, support and education for individuals concerned with caring for a person with dementia.
Presenters will address dementia from medical, spiritual and service standpoints.

This event is free to attendees not seeking contact hours and is open to the public. Preregistration is required. Online streaming of the event will be available at For viewing after the conference, visit

To schedule an interview with Gaugler or to invite him in for a live, in-studio appearance, please contact Caroline Marin, (612) 624-5680,, or Laurel Herold, (612)-624-2449,

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect University experts to today’s breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit Views expressed by experts do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: Academic Health Center

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