While no therapies are yet known to substantially change the course of dementia and thereby reduce the treatment costs, a study on Minnesota’s experience in implementing the New York University Caregiver Intervention (NYUCI) program revealed that the program could lead to significant cost savings and improved services. The NYUCI program offers six sessions of individual and family counseling for spouse and adult child caregivers of community-dwelling people having dementia within four months of enrollment and thereby provides an opportunity for them to participate in a weekly support group and telephone counseling in times of need. Minnesota embraced that effort by offering a five-year pilot program to 228 participating caregivers in urban and rural areas.
During the study, the researchers estimated the potential savings Minnesota would enjoy by offering the NYUCI program to all eligible Minnesotans from 2010 to 2025. The results showed approximately 5 percent more people having dementia would remain in the community from 2013 while 19.3 percent fewer people having dementia would die in the institutions by 2025. The study found that Minnesota could save $996 million in direct care costs during these fifteen years. In short, NYUCI program increases the practice of keeping Alzheimer’s patients in the community and at home and thereby achieve considerable cost savings.
However, the study also suggests this program can generate a positive return on investment only if there is widespread implementation, reasonable program costs and substantial caregiver participation. As per the study author, it was expensive to train the counselors even though Minnesota’s pilot projects demonstrated cost savings. The program architects are contemplating the use of web-based training format to resolve this issue.
It was also revealed in the study that the NYUCI program reduced the depression of caregivers and delayed nursing home placement by a year and a half. This indicates improved services in the community. According to the CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, the role of caregivers is critical as they could be immediately contacted during off-hours while the family makes a decision about going to a hospital or doctor’s office. They need to deal with that family and can use medical records to jot down their assessments. This will be helpful for physicians to suggest the right treatment and complete their documentation correctly for medical billing requirements.