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2007 Grant - Roberto
Understanding Mild Cognitive Impairment:
Family Dynamics and Diversity
Karen A. Roberto, Ph.D.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
2007 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is thought to be a transitional phase between normal cognitive aging and dementia. Much has been written about the needs of caregivers for people with mid- and late-stage Alzheimer's. But there is less understanding of what the families of people with MCI are experiencing, how they are managing their daily lives and how cognitive changes influence family relationships. Research shows that problems that appear in the early stages of care have long-term implications on whether caregivers become depressed or feel overly burdened.
Dr. Karen A. Roberto, Ph.D., and colleagues will study 99 economically and racially diverse families in which one individual has MCI. The individuals with MCI will be interviewed about how their memory problems affect their daily lives. Their caregivers will be interviewed about how those memory problems affect their families' daily lives and relationships and how they are coping with the changes. The researchers will follow up with the families one, two and three years later to see how their attitudes and situations have changed.
The opportunity to follow families experiencing mild memory loss over several years will enable the researchers to investigate whether, how, and to what extent care needs change over time, as well as the influence of such changes on families' relationships, strategies for care and overall quality of life. Their findings may help provide effective service, education and support for families.