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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M, Baylor faculty create project aimed at helping dementia patient caregivers

Photo by Graphic by Rachel Grant

A new program called “Texas Cares” aims to assist those who have dementia and will make their lives during that time as comfortable and pleasant as possible.

In Texas alone, there are over one million unpaid caregivers for the growing number of individuals living with dementia.
Dementia is a disorder that affects mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory loss, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. In an effort to relieve the hardships faced by caregivers, Dr. Marcia Ory of the Texas A&M School of Public Health and Dr. Alan Stevens of Baylor Scott & White Health jointly developed a project named Texas Cares. Texas Cares aims to aid caregivers by giving them access to information necessary for the proper care of an individual living with dementia.
Regent and distinguished professor Marcia Ory is the director of the Center for Population Health and with dementia. Ory said she hopes the program can help create dementia friendly communities.
“Texas Cares aims to address education and outreach in a way that provides reliable, vetted information for caregivers,” Ory said.  It also gives individual support for persons living with dementia and their caregivers, reducing the burden felt by those affected.”
The program also has online support for caregivers in the form of message boards and video interviews with caregivers.
“There are boards where caregivers can post problems and proven solutions they’ve encountered in an easier-to-digest approach that is accessible to anyone,” Ory said. “These video interviews provide examples of problems and allow caregivers to make positive and helpful decisions that treat persons with dementia with dignity.”
Stevens, said the project needed to be novel.
“Our goal was to create a new model of supporting family caregivers of persons living with dementia,” Stevens said. “The model needed to be unique to Texas and one that could be expanded over time. In this first year, we have started to create the infrastructure that will, over time and with additional resources, allow us to support family caregivers across Texas.
Caregiving is a personal matter for the family involved Stevens said.
“Family caregiving is a part of our American society,” Steven said.  “It is a time honored tradition that often brings special jobs and meaning to our lives.  However, dementia caregiving also comes with some heavy burdens due to the amount of care and supervision that persons with dementia require.  Thus, families need support to do a job that is often very important to them.  Of course, not all families are able to provide care for family members.  We need to have a system of public support to help those families.”
Mary Franklin, political science junior, said has struggled to help family members with dementia.
“When we found out my grandmother had dementia, we noticed she was forgetting more and that it just wasn’t her,” Franklin said. “Nobody in the family had any experience with the disease and we had to go in blind. My mom was researching the information as best she could, but to have the resources in one place would’ve been such a huge help to all of us.”

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