Helping Alzheimer’s patients stay independent

 

Study shows caregivers may be unintentionally making people with Alzheimer’s more dependent by underestimating their abilities

 

Edmonton, AB, Canada (July 18, 2012) – Family members or professional caregivers who do everything for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease may just be wanting to help, but one University of Alberta researcher says that creating excess dependency may rob the patients of their independence and self-worth. U of A psychologist Tiana Rust, who recently completed her doctoral program, says her research indicated that caregivers adopted a "dependency support script," assuming control of tasks they believed patients seemed no longer capable of doing for themselves. She says this model shows that the caregivers’ beliefs, rather than the person’s real abilities, drove their interactions with the patients. Her research also showed that the caregivers’ actions were also seemingly incongruous with their values of wanting to treat patients with respect and promote their independence.

 

With an aging Canadian population, the number of people suffering from the disease is expected to increase over the next 20 years, she says. Thus, changing behaviour becomes critical—and she’s hoping her U-of-A based research will help spark that change.

 

"When we create this excess dependency that doesn’t need to be there, this is a problem," said Rust. "1.1 million Canadians are projected to have dementia by 2038. So, if we’re able to maintain and promote independence to the degree permissible by the disease, that’s important."

 

 

Help not necessarily wanted

 

Rust observed several caregivers and Alzheimer’s patients in an experimental setting where they were asked to prepare a meal together. What she found was similar to behaviour patterns found in other studies with older adults: caregivers would assume responsibility for tasks that they believed patients were incapable of doing on their own. However, she noted that caregiver actions were not always based on their observations of the patient, but sometimes on their own beliefs.

 

"The caregivers who believed that people with Alzheimer’s disease in general are more likely to be at risk for injury and are more accepting of help were more likely to be dependence supportive than independence supportive," said Rust. "This suggests that caregivers are basing their behaviours partially on their beliefs rather than basing their behaviours on the actual needs and the actual abilities of the people that they’re interacting with."

 

 

Help them to help themselves

 

Rust said that in followup interviews, caregivers noted that they placed importance on treating people with Alzheimer’s disease with respect and promoting their independence. Yet, she noted that the caregivers’ actions did not always follow these goals or desires. She recounted the story of a lady whose husband suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. The man attended a day program at a nursing home, where he would take on a number of tasks that his wife had assumed for him at home. Rust said the woman was surprised that he was still able to perform these tasks as he had not done them in months at home. It’s an example, she says, of gauging the person’s abilities rather than making an assumption about the person’s ability based on societal beliefs related to the disease.

 

"People with Alzheimer’s disease have varying abilities, so it’s important to base [caregiver] interactions on the actual abilities of the person," she said. "Observing the person and gauging what they’re capable of before jumping in and supporting the dependence of the person is definitely important."

 

 

Training a critical component for both parties

 

Rust said that training for caregivers, to provide them with better understanding and proper tools that help them base their interactions with people with Alzheimer’s on the actual abilities of the person, could alleviate the potential for unnecessary intervention that would bring about patient dependence. Teaching them to observe and assess the person’s actual needs through interaction and observation, rather than what they believe the person needs, is vital in maximizing the person’s independence for as long as possible. One way, she says, is to assist the person by breaking up tasks such as preparing a meal into smaller, more manageable tasks that they can accomplish using verbal cues.

 

"The task we had given the caregivers and the residents to do was set the table, make grilled cheese sandwiches, mix juice and clean up afterwards. All of those tasks are quite big in themselves, but they can all be broken up into small activities," said Rust. "These are all small tasks that these people with Alzheimer’s disease were still capable of doing even though they might not have been able to do the full task.

 

"It’s a hard role as a caregiver to try to gauge what the person can do, to know what the patient is capable of, how much they can break up these tasks. But these were all things that the caregivers mentioned in the interviews, so they’re definitely wanting to promote the independence of these residents."

 


 

University of Alberta, 18.07.2012 (tB).

MEDICAL NEWS

Inadequate sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 variants impedes global response to COVID-19
New meta-analysis finds cannabis may be linked to development of…
New guidance on how to diagnosis and manage osteoporosis in…
Starting the day off with chocolate could have unexpected benefits
Better mental health supports for nurses needed, study finds

SCHMERZ PAINCARE

Versorgung verbessern: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schmerzmedizin fordert die Einführung des…
Pflegeexpertise im Fokus: Schmerzmanagement nach Operationen
Versorgung verbessern: Bundesweite Initiative der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Schmerzmedizin zu…
Jedes vierte Kind wünscht bessere Schmerzbehandlung
Lebensqualität von Patienten in der dauerhaften Schmerztherapie mit Opioiden verbessern

DIABETES

Bundestag berät über DMP Adipositas: DDG begrüßt dies als Teil…
Mit der Smartwatch Insulinbildung steuern
Verbände fordern bessere Ausbildung und Honorierung von Pflegekräften für Menschen…
Minimalinvasive Geräte warnen ungenügend vor Unterzuckerung
Typ-1-Diabetes und Hashimoto-Thyreoiditis treten häufig gemeinsam auf

ERNÄHRUNG

Wie eine Diät die Darmflora beeinflusst: Krankenhauskeim spielt wichtige Rolle…
DGEM plädiert für Screening und frühzeitige Aufbautherapie: Stationäre COVID-19-Patienten oft…
Führt eine vegane Ernährungsweise zu einer geringeren Knochengesundheit?
Regelmässiger Koffeinkonsum verändert Hirnstrukturen
Corona-Erkrankung: Fehl- und Mangelernährung sind unterschätze Risikofaktoren

ONKOLOGIE

Anti-Myelom-Therapie mit zusätzlich Daratumumab noch effektiver
Positive Ergebnisse beim fortgeschrittenen Prostatakarzinom: Phase-III-Studie zur Radioligandentherapie mit 177Lu-PSMA-617
Lymphom-News vom EHA2021 Virtual. Alle Berichte sind nun online verfügbar!
Deutsch-dänisches Interreg-Projekt: Grenzübergreifende Fortbildungskurse in der onkologischen Pflege
Sotorasib: Neues Medikament macht Lungenkrebs-Patienten Hoffnung

MULTIPLE SKLEROSE

NMOSD-Erkrankungen: Zulassung von Satralizumab zur Behandlung von Jugendlichen und Erwachsenen
Verzögerte Verfügbarkeit von Ofatumumab (Kesimpta®)
Neuer Biomarker bei Multipler Sklerose ermöglicht frühe Risikoeinschätzung und gezielte…
Multiple Sklerose beginnt oft lange vor der Diagnose
Goldstandard für Versorgung bei Multipler Sklerose

PARKINSON

Meilenstein in der Parkinson-Frühdiagnose
Parkinson-Erkrankte besonders stark von Covid-19 betroffen
Gangstörungen durch Kleinhirnschädigung beim atypischen Parkinson-Syndrom
Parkinson-Agenda 2030: Die kommenden 10 Jahre sind für die therapeutische…
Gemeinsam gegen Parkinson: bessere Therapie durch multidisziplinäre Versorgung