Newest BrainBeat podcast offers tips for dementia caregivers

November is National Family Caregivers Month. It’s also Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. It’s fitting that the latest episode of the BrainBeat podcast from the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN) offers tips for dementia caregivers.

During the 18-minute episode, Dr. Maureen O’Connor, a board-certified neuropsychologist who serves as director of neuropsychology at the Bedford Veterans Hospital and assistant professor of neurology at Boston University, illuminates the emotional, mental, and physical challenges that caregivers confront, as well as some of the invaluable resources at their disposal.

Her insights offer a profound understanding of the world of dementia caregiving, a role predominantly shouldered by older adults, often family members who find themselves navigating their own health-related concerns. The episode also explores the emotional toll on these caregivers, characterized by elevated rates of depression and stress, all while shedding light on the social and financial implications of this pivotal role.

(A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine indicated that dementia patients lost more than 60 percent of their median wealth over an eight-year period, and a recent article in The New York Times suggested that caregivers experience concomitant financial hardships as well.)

Throughout the episode, a resounding message emerges—the paramount importance of caregivers prioritizing self-care.

“Often our dementia caregivers are so involved in caring for their loved one that they’re not caring for themselves,” Dr. O’Connor says at one point.

As usual, this episode of BrainBeat unfolds as a conversation between Dr. O’Connor and host Dr. Peter Arnett, professor of psychology at Penn State University and a past president of the National Academy of Neuropsychology. The conversation underscores the significance of constructing a robust care team that comprises healthcare providers, friends, family, and support groups, all of whom are indispensable for caregivers to deliver optimal care.

Dr. O’Connor and Dr. Arnett navigate other topics, including driving cessation and end-of-life care.

Again, the podcast—Episode 16 of BrainBeat—is available now and can be accessed on demand by clicking here.

All BrainBeat podcasts can be accessed here.