Caring for a family member with dementia: an occupational therapy approach to facilitate positive dimensions of caregiving




Osuoha, Precious S.

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Dementia is a progressive, chronic disorder that affects 3 to 4 million individuals in the U.S. Challenges that occur as the disease progresses are: decline in cognitive functions; disruption of sleep and eating patterns; disorientation to person, place, and time; and loss of ability to understand and communicate. Due to these challenges, a person with dementia (PWD) requires more supervision and assistance to remain safe. Caregivers provide this level of supervision and assistance to the PWD. This amount of assistance can cause caregiver stress or physical or emotional strain. Caregiver stress increases when PWD exhibits challenging behaviors that manifest as part of the disease. Occupational therapy practitioners play a unique role in developing strategies for helping families effectively cope with dementia.

The purpose of this research study was to explore the benefits of caring for a person diagnosed with dementia and develop an approach for occupational therapy to facilitate possible positive dimensions of caregiving.

This research study was guided by three aims. The first aim explored caregivers’ perspectives on experiences of caring for a family member with dementia. The second aim examined ways in which occupational therapy currently facilitates positive dimensions of care by collecting data from occupational therapists by using an interview guide. The last aim was to develop an intervention protocol for occupational therapy that will help enhance positive relationships between caregiving dyad members. This protocol was developed based on the data collected from the first two aims and current best evidence. This was developed to help build a program that can assist in improving interaction between caregivers and care receivers. The occupational therapists used the AGREE II to provide feedback on the quality of interventions that were developed based on the data collected. The findings showed that the interventions used to create the caregiver intervention protocol manual can be used in clinical practice and caregiver education to improve interaction between caregiving dyad members but will require clearer stated objectives, risks, and strengths and limitations of the interventions.



Gerontology, Social sciences, Family caregiving, Occupational therapy