Supporting caregivers through education on dementia
Smith, Kammiell Marie.
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Dementia, a degenerative condition, is a progressive and debilitating disease evidenced by a decline in cognitive function affecting memory, communication, motor activity, and judgment. It is difficult for caregivers to cope with substantial changes in behavior, personality, and communication associated with this illness. Consequently, as the population ages the incidence of dementia will increase. It draws particular importance to the family caregiver role in maintaining the activities of daily care and managing unpredictable, progressive changes of the disease. Caregivers of persons with dementia take on a role that has considerable responsibility. Family caregivers also experience an added sense of duty that often leads to caregiver stress and burden. The purpose of this project was to develop an educational program. The program included a comprehensive literature review, input gathered from two assistive living homes and one senior center, and a one-hour educational presentation. The one hour educational presentation was presented at two assisted living homes and one senior center. Careful consideration was given to the aspects of stress and burden on family care givers of individuals with dementia. Psychosocial interventions, caregiver self-care, community resources, and interventions to assist with activities of daily living were also discussed. Content for the educational presentation addressed the following topics: signs and symptoms of dementia; interventions to assist with communication, behavioral and environmental management; and community resources to help with caregiver burden. Of the eight key lessons learned, two lessons are important to note. First, it is imperative to assess the emotional needs of the caregiver prior to the program development. Second, caregivers require an individualized approach to dealing with individuals with dementia. Important roles for Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (FPMHNP) are to provide anticipatory guidance to family caregivers about managing the changes in behavior, personality, and communication associated with dementia. They should also develop individualized, appropriately tailored, psychosocial interventions for the management of dementia. The FPMHNP is instrumental in assisting family caregivers with self-care management and providing information on community resources.