Shining a light on caregiver challenges

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Photo of Dr. Nasreen Khatri

Dr. Nasreen Khatri is working to identify a neural signature for depression in older adults and evaluate the impact of approaches like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

She also recently teamed up with Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario to assess the country’s first multilingual, group program centred on evidence-based, talk therapy principles for older adult caregivers – the Living Life to the Full program. Dr. Khatri found that caregivers reported substantial improvements to their levels of anxiety, feelings of loneliness and depressive symptoms after completing the program.

“Older adult caregivers are at an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression, which if left untreated doubles their risk of developing dementia later on,” says Dr. Khatri, principal investigator on the study and a clinician scientist with Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute.

Caregivers are unlikely to seek treatment because they lack the time

“Yet, caregivers are unlikely to seek treatment because they lack the time, resources or feel stigmatized. This program advocates for caregivers by shining a light on their issues and providing care where they live – in communities across Southern Ontario.”

The eight-week course helps unpaid caregivers aged 55+ self-manage their stress and cope with challenges. The program, which is delivered in four languages (English, French, Mandarin and Cantonese) across Toronto, aims to improve the mental well-being of caregivers while providing a cost-effective treatment option. Facilitators use small group activities, discussion, course booklets and worksheets to coach attendees on strategies that will help them manage negative feelings, tackle their problems and achieve their goals.


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