Type of Document Thesis Author Williams-McNealy, Shynequria Donshea Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-11112006-025415 Title African American Caregiver's Level of Knowledge about Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia and its Relationship to Psychological Stress Degree Master of Science Department Nursing, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Sandra Faria Committee Chair Deborah Frank Committee Member Denise Tucker Committee Member Keywords
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Psychological Stress
- African American
Date of Defense 2006-11-03 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
Caregivers of the elderly who suffers from AD and dementia have significantly high psychological stress. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive degenerative disease that affects cognition, the ability to perform activities of daily living, and behavior. AD is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impair mental functioning. Memory loss is one of the earliest symptoms of AD, along with a gradual decline of cognitive functions. Age is a key risk factor for AD in all racial and ethnic groups. Recent research has shown that the prevalence of AD in the African American community has graduated from a problem to an epidemic. Much of the burden of caring for patients with AD falls on family members, particularly spouses and adult children, predominantly female.
Because there is a lack of knowledge and awareness in the African American community about the disease, the progression of the disease, signs and symptoms, and resources available, many caregivers caring for individuals with AD and/or dementia suffer with physical illnesses and heightened levels of stress. This study examines the relationship between the level of knowledge and the level of psychological stress among African American primary caregivers of patients who have Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia.
A sample size of 50 caregivers was obtained by convenience sampling. A cross-sectional design was employed in this study. Caregivers were asked to fill out a quiz and questionnaire regarding their knowledge and feelings about caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia as well as some personal information about themselves.
Results of the study showed that increased knowledge about dementia was associated with higher levels of stress. Overall, there was a poor level of knowledge about dementia in African American caregivers. Caregiver stress was associated with relationship to the care recipient, showing that “others” were more stressed than spouses who took care of the elderly with dementia.
Caregivers’ lack of knowledge about the spiraling course of the disease may put them at risk for a multitude of psychological and physical health problems. Nurses can take an active role in educating the caregivers and public about the disease and providing access to available resources. Because African Americans demonstrated low levels of knowledge about dementia in this study, efforts should focus on identifying the barriers to knowledge and their means of gaining information about dementia.
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