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Gary Carmona thought he could do it all. He’s run companies and chaired nonprofit boards. But since his wife was diagnosed with dementia, Carmona, 77, has felt overwhelmed.

 

“I really see myself at times crashing,” he said. “In my mind, I’m saying, ‘You know, I can’t really handle all this.’”

 

There was the time his wife, Rochelle, wandered outside and fell down. And the time she boiled water and walked away, leaving the burner on.

 

“I’m always double-, triple-, quadruple-checking everything that she’s around,” he said.

 

Carmona was among about 25 people who went to a Los Angeles-area adult day care center on a recent Saturday for a daylong “caregiver boot camp.” In the free session, funded in part by the Archstone Foundation, people caring for patients with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia learned how to manage stress, make their homes safe and handle difficult patient behaviors. They also learned how to keep their loved ones engaged, with card games, crossword puzzles or music.

 

Doctors and researchers increasingly recognize that caring for people with dementia compromises the physical and mental health of the caregivers. And that, in turn, jeopardizes the well-being of the people they are caring for. Some studies have shown that the burden on caregivers may increase the likelihood that the loved ones in their charge will be placed in a nursing home.

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