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Supporting Family Members Who Are Caring For Their Loved Ones At Home

As our population ages, we’ve come to rely heavily on family and friend as caregivers for the sick and elderly. Never before has there been such a “crunch” on these caregivers who provide vital support and help to keep their loved ones out of hospital or long-term care.

On April 5th, National Caregivers Day, it is important to recognize the significance of informal caregivers in Canada - the value of this care is estimated to be about $26 billion per year. In order to address the challenges facing informal caregivers and the need to support them, Mount Sinai Hospital and the Toronto Central CCAC are launching a new pilot program designed to ease the burden and stress for loved ones living with dementia.

The program “Problem Solving Therapy” is a set of techniques or tools that assist caregivers with: 1) identifying challenges in providing care in the home, 2) developing skills in the day-to-day management of family members with dementia, and 3) reducing carer burden, thereby enhancing their ability to manage the care of their family members at home.  This pilot assesses where this therapy is most effective and can alleviate caregiver burden.

Dr. Joel Sadavoy, DIrector of the Reitman CentreThis partnership between Mount Sinai Hospital and the Toronto Central CCAC builds on the important work taking place at the Hospital through The Cyril & Dorothy, Joel & Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training, Canada’s first comprehensive program devoted to sustaining caregivers. Led by Dr. Joel Sadavoy, Director of the Reitman Centre and Geriatric Psychiatrist, the program is open to any family caregiver living with and/or caring for a person with dementia.

“Alzheimer’s sufferers often display an array of behavioural tendencies that can be a huge psychological burden for their caregivers who try to provide them with even the most basic care,” says Dr. Sadavoy. “To meet the needs of families as they struggle to adapt to dementia and survive, this Centre is the first in Canada to not only train non-health professionals as Alzheimer’s caregivers, but also provide a continuum of care to help caregiver who may show signs of undue guilt, grief, depression or anxiety and are in need of mental health care such as psychotherapy, medication management or supportive training groups.”

The Reitman Centre CARERS Program (Coaching, Advocacy, Respite, Education, Relationship and Simulation) delivers unique, targeted and tailored skill-building interventions that help family caregivers to better manage the day-to-day care of the person with dementia, to address emotional stress and to reduce levels of carer burden to ensure that family carers continue to perform their vital role.

Click here to learn more about the Reitman Centre CARERS Program.