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Baycrest and CMHA partner to evaluate caregiver mental health program

Dr. Nasreen Khatri headshot

Dr. Nasreen Khatri, clinician scientist with Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute

Baycrest has teamed up with Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario to assess the country’s first multilingual, group program centered on evidence-based, talk therapy principles for older adult caregivers.

CMHA Ontario’s Living Life to the Full initiative offers a free, eight-week course to help unpaid caregivers aged 55+ self-manage their stress and cope with challenges in their lives. The program, which is delivered in four languages (English, French, Mandarin and Cantonese) across 36 sites across Toronto, aims to improve the mental well-being of caregivers while providing a cost-effective, scalable treatment option for those in need.  

Since the program began in 2015, more than 275 caregivers looking after loved ones experiencing health changes due to aging, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression and physical impairments have participated in one of 27 courses delivered across Toronto.

“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. Nasreen Khatri, principal investigator on the study and a clinician scientist with Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute. “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.”

Participants in Living Life to the Full attend eight weekly, 90-minute, interactive group sessions with a trained facilitator. 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.

“Life’s challenges can appear immense and difficult to overcome, particularly if you’re responsible for the care and wellbeing of a loved one,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO of CMHA Ontario. “This program has been found to help participants address their own wellbeing as it teaches, using simple methods, skills to overcome worry and hopelessness.”

The program continues to invite all caregivers aged 55+ living in Toronto to participate. For program locations and to find out more, visit www.ontario.cmha.ca/caregivers-toronto or call 416-977-5580 ext. 4135.

The Living Life to the Full initiative is supported by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, the Association of Ontario Health Centres, Health Nexus, the Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario and Toronto Community Housing.

Additional funding would allow the program to be offered in additional communities, languages and through remote access technology, such as on-line resources.

About Baycrest Health Sciences
Baycrest Health Sciences is a global leader in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging. Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest provides excellent care for older adults combined with an extensive clinical training program for the next generation of healthcare professionals and one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience, the Rotman Research Institute. Baycrest is home to the federally and provincially-funded Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation, a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector, and is the developer of Cogniciti – a free online memory assessment for Canadians 40+ who are concerned about their memory.  Founded in 1918 as the Jewish Home for Aged, Baycrest continues to embrace the long-standing tradition of all great Jewish healthcare institutions to improve the well-being of people in their local communities and around the globe. For more information please visit: www.baycrest.org

About Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute
The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences is a premier international centre for the study of human brain function. Through generous support from private donors and funding agencies, the institute is helping to illuminate the causes of cognitive decline in seniors, identify promising approaches to treatment, and lifestyle practices that will protect brain health longer in the lifespan.

About CMHA, Ontario
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) works toward a single mission: to make mental health possible for all. The vision of CMHA Ontario is a society that believes mental health is the key to well-being. CMHA Ontario works closely with 30 local branches in communities across the province to ensure the quality delivery of services in the areas of mental health, addictions, dual diagnosis and concurrent disorders. Through policy formulation, analysis and implementation, agenda setting, research, evaluation and knowledge exchange, we work to improve the lives of people with mental health and addictions conditions and their families. 

For media inquiries:
Jonathan MacIndoe
Baycrest Health Sciences
416-785-2500 ext. 6579
jmacindoe@baycrest.org

Joe Kim
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
416-977-5580 ext. 4141
jkim@ontario.cmha.ca