ACTS 2 Project: African-American Alzheimer’s Caregiver Training and Support

https://www.acts2project.org/

Florida State University Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine

Tallahassee, Florida

https://med.fsu.edu/bssm/home

The ACTS 2 Project meets the needs of distressed African American caregivers of older adults with dementia. The Florida-based program provides culturally-sensitive, no-fee, skills-training and support (also known as cognitive-behavioral intervention) to dementia caregivers over toll-free telephone. The project also conducts a robust outreach effort to raise awareness about dementia through community presentations (reaching 4,000 annually) while also giving telephone consultations and community referrals.

Research has found many African American adults do not participate in social service programs outside their culture and community. In addition, financial challenges and limited transportation options to get to appointments prevent caregivers from accessing help. To overcome these barriers, ACTS 2 has successfully trained 17 faith community workers (lay pastoral care facilitators) to deliver faith-based, skills-building and support sessions (a 12-part series ranging from relaxation training integrated with prayer and meditation to problem-solving through goal setting). Over 50 family caregivers enroll in the program each year. Caregivers report improvements in emotional functioning, caregiving skills, and self-care, stating that the ACTS 2 groups led to:

  • significant relief in depression.
  • significant improvement of caregiving problems.
  • strong bond between caregivers and lay facilitators who offer on-going support.

One participant said, “The responsibility of caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s was very scary for me. I was a wife, mother of two children, and working full-time when I became responsible for the daily needs of my mother with Alzheimer’s. ACTS 2 allowed me to communicate, from the comfort of my own home, with other caregivers experiencing many of the same situations, feelings, and challenges. The telephone counseling sessions were conveniently conducted around my busy schedule and focused on dealing with difficult behaviors. This helped me to keep close to, and respect the dignity of, my dear mother. ACTS 2 was truly a blessing!”