The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Caregiver Thrive, Learn and Connect

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is offering a FREE psychoeducational program for caregivers in North Carolina.

Our goals are to offer caregivers an evidence-based training program to reduce stress and depression; improve management of their care plan for the care-recipient, and refresh their communication skills and to foster resilience on a large scale by promoting Virtual Communities of caregivers.

The Caregiver TLC program consists of six sessions led by trained facilitators. The program utilizes video conferencing to enrich the learning experience through facilitated small group discussions and enables caregiver’s participation without traveling to in-person meetings.

The program is coordinated by the research team at UNC Charlotte led by Dr. Julian Montoro-Rodriguez, Professor of Sociology and Social Work:

  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Address: 9201 University City Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28223
  • Email: info@caregivertlc.org
  • Telephone: 704-687-6166

The Caregiver TLC (Thrive, Learn and Connect) program, developed by Dr. Dolores Gallagher-Thompson of the Optimal Aging Center and colleagues, is a psycho-educational program offered in a virtual format to teach caregivers a core set of coping skills, relaxation training, mood management through behavioral activation, strategies to manage challenging behaviors and caregiving-specific communication skills.

The main curriculum of the program is based on the prior work of Dr. Gallagher-Thompson, Stanford University School of Medicine Research Professor Emerita, and former director of the Stanford Geriatric Education Center. Over 25 years, Dr. Gallagher-Thompson and associates have been conducting dementia caregiving research, which is applied in the Caregiver TLC program.

Optimal Aging
Southminster

How the program started

We would like to acknowledge and thank Southminster for the funding this program and their continued dedication to supporting family caregivers in North Carolina.

We know from recent data, including the 2020 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, that 1 in 5 Americans (21.3 percent) are caregivers, totaling an estimated 53 million adults in the US. A significant rise in caregiving is the predominance of caring for a family member or friend who is age 50 or older.

Despite the prevalence of caregiving, access to affordable and coordinated services remains scarce. Southminster decided to invest in this program and partner with UNC Charlotte to bring a free, evidenced based, program to caregivers in Charlotte and across North Carolina.

“We view this investment of our charitable resources as an effective way to create solutions to support caregivers, which we know ultimately will improve not only their well-being, but those they are caring for,” shared Southminster President/CEO Ben Gilchrist.

“Current research tells us that caregiving occurs among all generations, racial and ethnic groups, income and education levels, family types and sexual orientation. We need to make this program accessible to as many caregivers as possible, said Director of Philanthropy for Southminster Tracy McGinnis. “Based on what we learn in working with our colleagues we hope to make this a principal community program long term,” added McGinnis.

Caregiver TLC Team

Julian Montoro-Rodriguez, PhD
Julian Montoro-Rodriguez, PhD

Professor of Sociology and Gerontology, UNCC

Dr. Montoro-Rodriguez is a sociologist with a teaching and research background in the area of aging, health, human development and family studies. He is interested in testing theoretically based interventions designed to help family caregivers to reduce stress, depression, burden, and increase the quality of life of older adults and their families in North Carolina. His research examines the interrelations between formal and informal support systems and optimal adaptation to developmental changes among diverse older adults.

Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, PhD, ABPP
Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, PhD, ABPP

Founder & Co-Director, Optimal Aging Center

Dr. Gallagher-Thompson is a board certified Geropsychologist with over 25 years of experience, a Stanford University School of Medicine Research Professor Emerita, and former director of the Stanford Geriatric Education Center (SGEC). She received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California and intensive training in Cognitive Therapy from Dr. Aaron T. Beck and associates at the Center for Cognitive Therapy in Philadelphia.

Larry Wolford Thompson, PhD
Larry Wolford Thompson, PhD

Founder & Co-Director, Optimal Aging Center

Dr. Thompson is a Geropsychologist with a PhD from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida and a Professor Emeritus, from Stanford University’s School of Medicine. In a career that spans over 40 years, he has specialized in how to enhance mental health and well-being in older adults. Dr. Thompson has held numerous professional positions both clinically and in academia.

Jennifer Ramsey, PhD
Jennifer Ramsey, PhD

Caregiver TLC Project Coordinator, UNCC

Dr. Ramsey received her PhD in Lifespan Developmental Psychology from North Carolina State University. Dr. Ramsey's research collaborations have focused on examining and implementing evidence-based programming designed to promote the maintenance of functional capacity among older adults and programming targeted at mitigating the negative effects of stress and promoting effective emotion regulation, coping, and problem-solving strategies among informal caregivers.

Ann Choryan Bilbrey, PhD
Ann Choryan Bilbrey, PhD

Founding Member & Associate Director, Optimal Aging Center

Dr. Bilbrey is the Associate Director of the Optimal Aging Center with a speciality in making research findings accessible for older adults. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Palo Alto University and completed her postdoctoral training at Stanford University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Her emphasis in her doctoral program was in the Clinical Neuroscience of Women’s Health and was completed at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. Her dissertation examined the effects of rapid withdrawal from hormone therapy on postmenopausal women.

Kendra Jason, PhD<
Kendra Jason, PhD

Associate Professor of Sociology, UNCC

Dr. Kendra Jason is an interdisciplinary health disparities scholar who examines the multi-level factors that may influence the relationship between health and desired workforce participation for older Black adults. She seeks to identify contributing factors to health disparities by analyzing the links between race, discrimination, workforce behaviors, and care processes. Her research on these issues are published in The Gerontologist, Journal of Applied Gerontology, Healthcare Management Review, and Research in the Sociology of Work. Most recently, her work was featured on Forbes.com and PBS Next Avenue.

Laura H. Gunn, PhD
Laura H. Gunn, PhD

Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences, Director of Biostatistics Core, UNCC

Dr. Gunn received her PhD in Statistics and Decision Sciences from Duke University, during which time she also held a research training fellowship in Biostatistics with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Laura is currently Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences and Director of Biostatistics Core at University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte), as well as Honorary Research Fellow at Imperial College London’s (ICL) School of Public Health (SPH) within the Faculty of Medicine.

Bruno Kajiyama, MS
Bruno Kajiyama, MS

Founder and CEO, Photozig, Inc.

Mr. Kajiyama has over 25 years of experience with technology (online programs, mobile apps, user interfaces, software, etc.), behavioral interventions (Alzheimer's care, dementia caregiving, ACT trainings, CBT trainings, and others), and media production (e.g. video trainings, Telenovela, DVD productions, and special videos). Mr. Kajiyama has been the Principal Investigator of NIH-funded online interventions for caregivers such as iCare and Webnovela Mirela.