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Doctor of Nursing Practice
Public Health Nurse Leader
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
alzheimers, dementia, caregiver, self-care, burden, depression
DNP Project Chair
DNP Project Member Name
DNP Project Outside Member Name
Caregivers in the United States are a rapidly growing segment of the system of care for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Lack of training and support puts them at risk of depression, anxiety and failure to take care of their own healthcare needs. Different interventions with caregivers have been studied in both randomized controlled and non-randomized studies and many tools are available to assess burden of care and the effectiveness of interventions to reduce the negative consequence of the experience. Results are inconclusive and numerous studies have found that minimal evidence exists to support any one model of intervention. There is however consensus that the needs of caregivers are not currently being met. The purpose of this capstone project was to address those needs by developing a structured support group focused on psycho education, self-care and an introduction to complementary medicine. The goal was to reduce burden and depression and increase self-care by providing participants with information and tools to assist in their role as caregivers. The results indicate
that support group provides emotional support, information and problem solving skills for caregivers but does not necessarily reduce burden or depression or increase self-care. The meaningful significance of this intervention is reflected in the satisfaction survey completed by participants.
Selected validated tools did not yield results that were reliable due to: partially completed forms; resistance to completing forms; confusion on the part of participants as to how to complete forms leading to errors; some only completing the pre or post test but not both. Future efforts should consider qualitative methods like storytelling and pre and post interviews. Although the tools did not provided useful data the intervention was well attended and satisfaction surveys revealed that for almost all of the attendees the group provided them with important information, tools and support both from the leaders and from each other. Further research is needed to clearly understand the needs and determine effective interventions for our rapidly aging population and diminishing number of caregivers. Nurses are in a pivotal position to implement and evaluate evidence-based interventions for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.