“I’ve learned to just go with the flow”: Family caregivers’ strategies for managing behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia

Courtney A. Polenick, Laura M. Struble, Barbara Stanislawski, Molly Turnwald, Brianna Broderick, Laura N Gitlin, Helen C. Kales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background and objectives: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia are highly prevalent, stressful, and challenging to manage. Caregivers’ approaches for handling these behaviors have implications for both care partners’ well-being. Yet the specific strategies that caregivers use in their daily management of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia are relatively unknown. This study used in-depth focus group data to examine family caregivers’ strategies for managing behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Design: As part of a larger study (NINR R01NR014200), four focus groups were conducted with a total of 26 family caregivers of older adults with dementia. Caregivers were asked to describe the strategies they use to manage behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Data from audio-recorded sessions were transcribed, coded to identify relevant concepts, and reduced to determine major categories. Results: Caregivers managed behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia through (1) modifying interactions within the care dyad (e.g., simplifying communication); (2) modifying the care environment (e.g., using written prompts); (3) activity engagement; (4) humor; (5) self-care; and (6) social support. Conclusion: Family caregivers manage behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia using strategies to minimize stress and address the needs of both care partners. Caregivers’ own accounts of these approaches reveal a window into their everyday management of difficult behaviors. The present findings generate key information for routine clinical care and targeted interventions to promote caregiver well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDementia
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

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dementia
caregiver
well-being
humor
management
dyad
social support
Group
communication
interaction

Keywords

  • behavioral management
  • caregiver stress and coping
  • family caregiving
  • neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia
  • qualitative analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

“I’ve learned to just go with the flow” : Family caregivers’ strategies for managing behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. / Polenick, Courtney A.; Struble, Laura M.; Stanislawski, Barbara; Turnwald, Molly; Broderick, Brianna; Gitlin, Laura N; Kales, Helen C.

In: Dementia, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Polenick, Courtney A. ; Struble, Laura M. ; Stanislawski, Barbara ; Turnwald, Molly ; Broderick, Brianna ; Gitlin, Laura N ; Kales, Helen C. / “I’ve learned to just go with the flow” : Family caregivers’ strategies for managing behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. In: Dementia. 2018.
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