Utah State University (USU) announced the results of a study
presenting strong evidence that caregivers can promote higher
functioning among persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of
dementia by modifying the patient’s environment.
“This study is a groundbreaking event in the fight
against dementia, including Alzheimer’s, which has been so pervasively
devastating for individuals and families, especially given the limited
treatment options for patients and their families,” said Dr. JoAnn
Tschanz, Professor at USU and the study’s lead author. “Except for
psychiatric symptoms, few studies have examined how caregiver characteristics affect the rate of dementia progression,
and our findings indicate significant associations between caregiver
coping strategies and the rate of cognitive and functional decline in
Conducted in Cache County, Utah, by a team of USU researchers along
with fellow researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the study
assessed 226 persons with dementia and their caregivers semi-annually
for up to six years.
“Greater use of problem-focused coping may be mutually
beneficial for both patients and caregivers,” said Dr. Tschanz. “Use of
this coping strategy may translate into developing a care environment
that is tailored to individual patient needs. Furthermore, other
research suggests problem-focused coping has been associated with less
emotional distress among caregivers. Such strategies may help caregivers
cope with the stress of dementia caregiving while curbing the
progression of dementia in their patients.”
The study, entitled “Caregiver Coping Strategies Predict Cognitive and Functional Decline in Dementia: The Cache County Dementia Progression Study,” was published in the January 2013 issue of The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
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