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Summary of “Effects of Positive Cognitions and Resourcefulness on Caregiver Burden among Caregivers of Persons with Dementia”
The purpose of this article was to examine the mental and emotional health of people who are charged with the role of caregiver for elderly family members who suffer from dementia. Eighty percent of older adults who suffer from dementia are cared for at home by family members. Most caregivers report that they are stressed out, worry about finances and the future, experience a decrease in leisure activities and social interactions. Research also uncovered that some caregivers reported that they actually felt an enhanced feeling for life and were happy in their role and life in general. The authors describe this population as possessing resilience, which is the positive adjustment to difficult circumstances and resourcefulness which is described as maintaining independence in daily life despite difficulty. The researchers sought to answer the question of the effects of the burden of caring for a loved one with dementia on resourcefulness and the effects of positive cognitions on resourcefulness.
Subjects were recruited through the Alzheimer’s Association in Southern Wisconsin. The researchers specifically targeted caregivers of those in the early stages of dementia. A Likert scale was used to measure both the state of mind and lifestyle of the caregiver and the severity of the patient’s dementia. 90% of. Caregivers were female, 10% male. The age range was 22 to 87 years old with a median age of 57. 56% were Caucasian, 35% were African American and the remainder were Asian and Hispanic. 55% of caregivers were married. Educational levels were evenly split between high school, college and graduate.
The researchers measured the caregiver’s level of burden using the Zarit Burden interview, a Likert style assessment of 22 questions. Positive cognition was measured using the Depressive Cognition Scale which consists of 6 items also based on a Likert scale. Resourcefulness was measured using the Resourcefulness Scale, which is a self-reporting assessment of 28 items.
The results of the study indicated that positive cognitions had a direct effect on resourcefulness. As the scores for positive cognitions increased so did resourcefulness. Positive cognition followed three conditions. The first was caregiver burden (the independent variable) predicted variation in resourcefulness (the outcome variable). Secondly variation in caregiver burden predicted the outcome of positive cognitions (the mediator variable). Lastly, the prediction of resourcefulness by caregiver burden was altered when positive cognitions were employed.
One of the limitations of the study was that the caregivers recruited for the study was convenient for the researchers. The sample had an overall high rating of resourcefulness and positive cognitions. The researchers also note that the majority of caregivers were female, healthy and did not love with the person they were caring for.
The researchers found a direct influence on resourcefulness by positive cognitions on the part of the caregivers. The researchers concede that while this information is valuable, further research is needed on the subject. It is noted that a similar study of caregivers who live with their loved one should be investigated.
The implication of the study is significant for nurses who work with caregivers of patients with dementia. Nurses can advise caregivers on strategies and interventions to improve positive cognitions and help improve resourcefulness. This would help caregivers live a healthier more positive life despite their burden of caring for a loved one with dementia.
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