Cognitive training to protect immune systems of older caregivers

Director/PI: Principal Investigator Kathi Heffner (School of Nursing); Co-Investigator Silvia Sörensen (Warner School of Education and Human Development)

This study tests the effectiveness and mechanisms of cognitive training for spousal caregivers of patients with dementia in protecting against chronic stress-induced aging of the immune system.

Collaborators: Kathi Heffner, a health psychologist in the School of Nursing; Jan Moynihan, a psychoneuroimmunologist in the department of Psychiatry; Silvia Sörensen, a gerontologist at the Warner School of Education and Human Development; and graduate students.

Funding: National Institute on Aging

This project is led by Dr. Kathi Heffner. Caregivers are offered a computer-based cognitive training program that targets multiple domains of fluid cognitive abilities, and is known to positively affect older adults’ emotional well-being and health-related quality of life. The study tests whether speed of processing training has significant effects on markers of older adults’ the autonomic nervous system, emotion regulation and general emotional well-being, and immune function. As co-investigator, Sörensen contributes her expertise in caregiver interventions and her experience with community outreach to this project.

Tags: Silvia Sörensen