Caring for a loved one with memory loss is difficult under the best of circumstances, but those in the LGBTQ community face additional challenges because of their identity and a lifetime of marginalization, stigma and trauma. Caregivers might be reluctant to take advantage of resources in the community, fearing discrimination or hostility. They might feel unwelcome in support groups. Or they might forego medical care for their loved one because they don’t have an “official” status to make decisions.
Aging with Pride: IDEA (Innovations in Dementia Empowerment and Action) from the University of Washington is the first federally-funded research study examining ways to improve the health and quality of life for adults with memory loss and their caregivers in the LGBTQ community. Aging with Pride: IDEA coaches provide an evidenced-based intervention tailored to reduce stress and improve physical function while addressing the unique needs of LGBTQ older adults.
The person with memory loss and their caregiver participates as a pair and at least one of them must be LGBTQ. The caregiver can be a spouse, partner, adult child, relative, friend, or anyone who helps the person with memory loss.
The IDEA program includes nine individualized sessions with a trained coach. The coach provides:
- Problem-solving: Coaching to identify consistent areas of tension and brainstorm ideas and approaches to improve behavior problems.
- Communication: Coaching in strategies to address communication challenges related to memory loss/dementia.
- Low-level exercise Stretching, flexibility, and balance exercises to strengthen the body, support independence, reduce injury and improve mood.
- Connection to community resources specific to LGBTQ aging and caregiving.
The sessions are individualized and virtual, using easy video chatting. Participants don’t have to leave home to participate, can live anywhere in the U.S., and are compensated for completing phone interviews. Tablets with connectivity and plus tech support can be provided if needed.
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