Appointments & Information: Phone: WHHH: 516-586-1507; Hope & Healing: 516-586-1509 Fax: 718-289-2189

Parker Unveils a New Program Supporting Family Caregivers of Older Adults with Dementia and a History of Trauma: Hope and Healing

Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation received a grant from the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) to support of older adults with dementia and a history of trauma and their family caregivers.

Through the Hope and Healing Program, we hope to address the unique challenges faced by family caregivers of older adults with dementia and a history of trauma, by providing person-centered, trauma-informed approaches and services that can help ameliorate these challenges and promote the health and well- being of this uniquely vulnerable population.

Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event including, but may not be limited to: Holocaust, Abandonment, Illness, Loss and Violent Traumas, Assault, Death of a family member or friend, Injury or Illness of a Loved One, Sexual Trauma, Military Experiences, Robbery, Suicide, Witness to Violence, Accidents, Natural Disaster.

In the United States today, one in six Americans – or about 42 million American adults – is caring for someone 50 or older (AARP/NAC, 2020). While family caregivers often find their role caring for a loved one to be rewarding, they also face many challenges: including negative health and financial impacts, work and relationship problems, and emotional stress and burden. Caregiving can also leave caregivers feeling socially isolated (RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council, 2021), an outcome that can have negative health impacts of its own. These problems can in turn result in many serious consequences for the person with dementia, including: isolation, depression, nursing home placement, as well as abuse and neglect in the most extreme cases.

Approximately 70-90 percent of American adults have been exposed to a traumatic event (Kilpatrick et al., 2013). The impacts of trauma can last for years and even emerge decades after a traumatic event. Trauma increases susceptibility to disease and health complications for both caregivers and the person with trauma. Moreover, research continues to document trauma as a risk factor for dementia.

Family caregivers of older adults with dementia and a history of trauma face a number of unique challenges, including: trauma-related symptoms in their loved ones that can be frightening, or difficult to manage, along with fears of re-traumatizing their loved ones while dealing with their cognitive symptoms.

Trauma occurs when a situation or event causes intense fear, horror or helplessness. Those who experience trauma can have many physical and mental responses, some of which may last a lifetime. Trauma can occur at any point during the life course, without regard to age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, geography, or sexual orientation (SAMHSA, 2014). No one is immune to having experienced a traumatic event such as a disaster, accident, crime, illness, sexual assault, war, terrorism, poverty, or other potentially life-threating or lifechanging event. Trauma can be experienced by individuals as well as by communities and populations as a whole, and can carry over across generations, members of racial, ethnic, sexual minority, and other diverse and under-served communities are at particularly high risk for trauma exposure.

Through the Hope and Healing Program, we hope to address the unique challenges faced by family caregivers of older adults with dementia and a history of trauma, by providing person-centered, trauma-informed approaches and services that can help ameliorate these challenges and promote the health and well- being of this uniquely vulnerable population.

Building upon JFNA’s experience spearheading innovations in person-centered trauma informed care for Holocaust survivors, to older adults with dementia and a history of trauma, and their family caregivers through grants from Administration for Community Living (ACL), our approach aims to provide an environment where an older adult or their family caregiver thrives.

Person-centered trauma informed care (PCTI), is a holistic approach to service provision that promotes the health and well-being of trauma survivors by infusing knowledge about trauma into programs that promotes the dignity, strength, and empowerment of trauma victims. PCTI combines the principles of person-centered service delivery, which considers everyone’s experiences, needs, strengths, preferences, and goals. The use of PCTI-based family caregiver support services and strategies can promote better outcomes for family caregivers as well as the older adults they care for.

If you or someone you know who is a family caregiver of an older adult with dementia and a Holocaust survivor or an older adult with history of trauma, you are not alone! We can help.

Resources and Support, include:

  • Helpline – (516) 586-1509
  • Educational Programs
  • Virtual Wellness Programs
  • Individual and Family Consultations (in-home, virtual or by telephone)
  • Care Coordination and Referrals
  • Support Groups
  • Counseling
  • Social Programs

Services are free and available to caregivers of and older adults with dementia and a history of trauma. For more information about Hope and Healing Program, please contact us:

Telephone: (516) 586-1509 

Email: hope@parkerinstitute.org

This service is supported by a grant from The JFNA Center on Holocaust Survivor Care and Institute on Aging and Trauma.