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Accessible Support for Family Caregivers of Seniors with Chronic Conditions: From Isolation to Inclusion*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2010

Miriam Stewart
Affiliation:
Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta
Alison Barnfather
Affiliation:
Social Support Research Program, University of Alberta
Anne Neufeld
Affiliation:
Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta
Sharon Warren
Affiliation:
Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta
Nicole Letourneau
Affiliation:
School of Nursing, University of New Brunswick
Lili Liu
Affiliation:
Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta
Corresponding

Abstract

Accessible support programs can improve health outcomes for family caregivers of older relatives with a chronic condition. Over the course of 6 months, 27 experienced family caregivers provided weekly support via the telephone to 66 individuals, either new family caregivers of seniors recently diagnosed with stroke or newly vulnerable family caregivers (i.e., facing increasing demands from the deterioration of their senior relative's condition) of seniors with Alzheimer's disease. Qualitative data documented the perceived impact of the intervention, including increased satisfaction with support, coping skills, caregiving competence and confidence, and decreased caregiver burden and loneliness. Caregivers identified varied support processes that overcame support deficits in their social networks. These processes can facilitate replication in future research and inform practice, programs, and policies.

Résumé

Des programmes de soutien accessibles sont en mesure d'améliorer la qualité de vie des soignants familiaux de personnes âgées souffrant d'une maladie chronique. Dans le cadre d'un programme d'une durée de six mois, 27 soignants familiaux d'expérience offraient un soutien téléphonique hebdomadaire à 66 nouveaux soignants de personnes âgées qui avaient récemment subi un accident cérébrovasculaire ou encore à des soignants devenus soudainement plus vulnérables (parce qu'ils devaient par exemple affronter des exigences de plus en plus difficiles dues à la détérioration de la santé d'une personne âgée atteinte d'Alzheimer). Des données qualitatives attestent l'impact perçu de ces interventions : une amélioration du taux de satisfaction du soutien donné, une meilleure capacité d'adaptation, des compétences accrues et une plus grande confiance en soi lors de l'administration des soins, la sensation d'avoir un fardeau moins lourd à porter et d'être moins isolé. Les soignants ont identifié différents processus de soutien capables de suppléer aux lacunes qui caractérisaient leur réseau social habituel. Il serait nécessaire de répliquer ces processus lors de recherches futures afin de s'en servir pour alimenter la pratique, les programmes et les politiques à l'égard des soins familiaux.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2006

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Footnotes

*

The research team is grateful to the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research and the Capital Care Group for support of this project. We would also like to thank Linda Barrett, Gil Rueck, Sharon Alexander, Jenny Nicoll, Jane Yi, and William Rutakumwa for their contributions to the success of this project. Finally, our deepest appreciation is extended to all the families who participated in this research.

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