TARCC is committed to exploring and enhancing ways to provide care for persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias in Texas, while also reducing the burden of care and maximizing independence.
According to the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association Disease Facts and Figures, more than 1.4 million Texas family members and caregivers provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, representing more than 1.6 billion hours of unpaid care. 83% of the unpaid help provided to older adults in the U.S. comes from family members, two-thirds of which are women. One in three family caregivers are over the age of 65 and more than half are children of the person with dementia. Many Texans are involved directly in caregiving, which includes not only assistance with daily activities, but also emotional support and assistance with coordination of health care needs. The value of this unpaid care in Texas is estimated to be more than $20 billion per year. While there are benefits of caregiving to the caregiver, the negative consequences of dementia caregiving can overshadow these benefits, and include negative impacts upon physical and psychological health/stress, and social isolation, in addition to financial costs. For instance, the stress of the unpaid care provided in Texas resulted in increased health care costs for these caregivers, to the tune of more than $900 million in 2019 alone.
Many strategies to support family caregivers have been evaluated over the years by various organizations and researchers. In general, the goal of a caregiving intervention is to improve the health and well-being of the caregiver by relieving some of the negative aspects of caregiving. TARCC supports the development and testing of these strategies for improving caregiver activities and outcomes in Texas.
TARCC has provided pilot funding support for the development of the Texas Cares program with three main foci:
1) TexasTalksAlz: A web-based education and resources for all Texans
2) GamePlan4Care: Electronic delivery of skill-building exercises and flexible tailoring of services based on the unique needs of each family caregiver.
3) Dementia Friendly Texas: Development of a network of communities, organizations and individuals seeking to ensure that communities across Texas are equipped to support people living with dementia and their caregivers.
The TARCC pilot funding contributed to the development of a proof of concept for the Texas Cares program. Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center was the coordinating entity, but the program development also involved Baylor Scott and White Health (Co-PIs Marcia Ory at A&M and Alan Stevens at BS&W).
This TARCC support helped lead to funding from the National Institute of Aging to further develop the specific computer programming for GamePlan4Care decision algorithms and to conduct a randomized clinical trial of its effectiveness. It also helped with obtaining additional National Institute of Aging grant funding to identify environmental strategies to promote physical activity, social interaction, and independence of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders and to reduce burdens on their caregivers.
Starting in 2018, the Investigator Grants Program includes support for other caregiving projects at TARCC member institutions. TARCC is especially interested in projects that advance caregiving, with a focus on collaboration and innovation, including the use of technology to aid in detection and monitoring of behavior.