By Leah Fein
Researchers at the Penn Memory Center (PMC) were honored last week for their work on a caregiver educational program and research on self-reported memory loss among patients and their caregivers.
PMC Associate Director of Social Work Alison Lynn presented “Caring for the Caregiver: A Psychoeducational Class for Dementia Caregivers” — co-authored with Executive Director Felicia Greenfield and social work intern Sarah Bujno — at the Institute on Aging’s Sylvan M. Cohen 2019 Annual Retreat May 1. It was awarded Best Poster in the “Education and Community” category.
“Caring for the Caregiver” is a seven-week psychoeducational caregiver class led by Greenfield and Lynn. Bujno, a social work student, assisted with the program during her time with PMC. The team’s research showed that caregivers who completed the course reported significantly less anxiety, stress, and depression. Additionally, they were less likely to engage in “maladaptive” thoughts that lead to caregiver burnout.
The spring session of the caregiver class recently ended, and the next set of classes will begin in the fall of 2019. The class is open to anyone caring for a loved one living with dementia. Learn more here.
Director of Cognitive Fitness Programs and Neuropsychological Services Dawn Mechanic-Hamilton and PMC Co-Director David Wolk were awarded first place in clinical research for their work, “Cognitive Decline and Subjective Memory Complaints: Patient and Informant Discrepancies,” co-authored and presented by Penn Medicine student Leah Zuroff.
The team found that patients with “subjective memory complaints” or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) were more likely to report memory problems than their caregivers were about them. Whereas, patients with Alzheimer’s disease were less likely to report memory loss than their caregivers were about them. This suggests that patient-reported memory loss may not reliably reflect impairment.
PMC was well represented at the retreat, with research from clinicians, staff, and trainees. The annual event convenes Penn researchers, students, and faculty, as well as colleagues from other area colleges and community groups with a shared interest in aging.