Australasian Journal on Ageing
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Edith Cowan University / Alzheimer's WA
Objectives: This study evaluated the impact of a 5-week educational and supportive program for people newly diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers. Methods: The study involved a pretest–posttest survey followed by interviews. Wilcoxon signed-rank test was conducted to determine postprogram changes. Kruskal–Wallis tests measured variation in responses between the people with dementia and their caregivers. Interviews were analysed using the NVivo software identifying themes against the program objectives of improving knowledge on dementia, coping strategies, communication and support services for people with dementia and their caregivers. Results: Fifty-three dyads (n = 106) completed the survey. There were significant improvements in participants' level of understanding of dementia (z = −8.04, p < 0.001), knowledge of local services (z = −8.11, p < 0.001) and coping with life with dementia (z = −6.93, p < 0.001). These findings were consistent with interview data from 16 dyads. Conclusions: The increasing number of people with dementia and their caregivers living in the community present health challenges. Programs that assist this group to function well in the community are important. Evaluation of this program indicated improved outcomes in relation to adjusting to life with dementia, enhancing knowledge, fostering communication and reducing feelings of isolation. Areas of improvement included lengthening the program with ongoing contact sessions with program facilitators and other participants. Given the positive effects of the program on this vulnerable group of people, it maybe useful for health-care agencies involved in dementia care to conduct this type of program as a matter of routine treatment and care for people newly diagnosed with dementia.
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