Study suggests caregivers can slow progression of dementia

dementia omahaA recent study suggests that family caregivers who use positive coping strategies could be slowing the progression of dementia in the loved ones they’re caring for. This research comes from Utah State and Johns Hopkins University, which assessed more than 200 demintia patients and their caregivers twice a year over a six year span, reported the AARP.

With an aim to measure genetic and environmental factors that might affect the rate of the progression of dementia, patients were given brief exams which measured cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, language and orientation. The research found that caregivers who took a problem-solving approach to coping saw slower rates of decline in care recipients with dementia than caregivers who did not take a problem solving approach as often.

So what exactly is this problem-solving approach to coping? The article describes it as those with good social support who count their blessings, i.e., those apt at “changing how [they] look at a situation and focusing on the positive rather than trying to tackle the problem itself.” Another bonus of these positive coping strategies is that they lead to less caregiver stress, according to the study.

Utah State professor JoAnn Tschanz, the study’s lead author, offered the following strategies for caregivers, adapted below.

  • Avoid arguing or correcting your loved one with dementia as the disease may limit his or her ability to see things from separate points of view.
  • Your loved one’s abilities may vary depending on whether he or she is having a good or bad day. Try to figure out patterns to the bad days as to identify trigger behaviors.
  • Don’t forget to take time for yourself. You need it and deserve it.
  • Do your homework so you know how dementia progresses. This helps you be prepared to seek professional help when the time comes.

Do you think the results of the study are credible? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

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