BACKGROUND: People with dementia have a range of needs that are met by informal caregivers. A DVD-based training program was developed using research-based strategies for memory and communication in dementia. The effectiveness of the training on the caregiver experience and the well-being of the person with dementia was evaluated.
METHODS: A pre-test/post-test controlled trial was undertaken with caregiver-care-recipient dyads living in the community. Measures of the carers' knowledge of memory and communication strategies, burden, positive perceptions of caregiving, and perceptions of problem behaviors were taken pre- and three months post-intervention. The depression and well-being of the person with dementia were also evaluated. Satisfaction with the training and feedback were measured.
RESULTS: Twenty-nine dyads (13 training group, 16 control group) participated. Bonferroni's correction was made to adjust for multiple comparisons, setting α at 0.00385. A significant improvement was found in caregivers' knowledge for the training group compared to the control group (p = 0.0011). The training group caregivers reported a reduction in the frequency of care recipient disruptive behaviors (p = 0.028) and increased perceptions of positive aspects of caregiving (p = 0.039), both at a level approaching significance. The training group care recipients had increased frequency of verbally communicated depressive behaviors at a level approaching significance (p = 0.0126). The frequency of observed depressive behaviors was not significantly different between groups.
CONCLUSIONS: This approach to training for caregivers of people with dementia appears promising for its impact on knowledge and the caregiving experience. Further research could monitor the impact of the training on broader measures of depression and well-being, with a larger sample.