One Call Makes A Difference: An Evaluation Of The Alzheimer's Association National Helpline On Dementia Caregiver Outcomes

Abstract

Objective: The study evaluated the effects of care consultation delivered through the Alzheimer's Association National Helpline - a free resource in which master's-level clinicians offer confidential support. The study compared the effectiveness of Helpline "Care Consultation" and "Care Consultation Plus" conditions on caller outcomes.

Methods: Four hundred and forty-five non-crisis callers were randomly assigned to the traditional Helpline "Care Consultation" or a "Care Consultation Plus" condition that included one additional booster call.

Results: While no differences were found between the two conditions, the study found that callers reported significantly improved caregiver mental health scores (27 % net improvement over baseline) and ability to manage emotions (29 % net improvement) at one week (p = .006). By one week, 70 % of callers had put action steps in place and by 1 month 80 % of callers had put action steps into place. Over 80 % of callers reported action steps were "helpful".

Conclusion: A single call provided a measurable benefit to caregivers'mental health, ability to manage emotions and ability to engage in action planning and accessing resources.

Practice implications: This pilot study demonstrated that the support provided via the Helpline can be effective at improving caregiver mental health and improving the ability of callers to "take action".