Community Stress-Busting Program for Family Caregivers of Patients with Dementia
Lewis, Sharon Lynnette
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Purpose: As caregivers assume responsibilities for family members who are unable to care for themselves, they experience a tremendous amount of change and stress in their lives. The Community Stress-Busting Program (CSBP) for Family Caregivers was developed through research to help family caregivers cope with their role. Methods: The CSBP consists of a 9-week intervention where caregivers meet in small groups for 90 minutes/session. The sessions are focused on stress management techniques, problem-solving approaches, coping strategies, and information about dementia and challenging behaviors of dementia patients. Caregiver handbooks, an audio meditation CD, a Relaxation Strategies DVD, and comprehensive facilitators' manual are part of the toolkit that was developed to assist in maintaining fidelity to the original research-based program. The model for dissemination of the program is a master trainer-lay leader model delivered in a collaborative effort with many community agencies throughout central and south Texas. Results: On an individual level, caregivers who participated have shown significantly lowered stress, depression, and caregiver burden levels as well as improved quality of life. In addition, they have experienced improvement in their ability to relax and manage stress. The results of the dissemination part of the research program also indicate that collaboration was effective in designing, implementing, and disseminating a community-based program for family caregivers. The next step is the determination of the long-term sustainment of the program. Conclusions: The CSBP is an effective intervention for family caregivers that can be delivered in a community setting. A key question that still needs to be addressed is what can be done to have the CSBP be a self-sustaining program delivered in various community settings. Note: The original research-based program was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The dissemination project is funded by the Administration on Aging.