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2014 Grants - Sherman
Technology-Assisted Intervention for Remarried and Stepfamily Caregivers
Carey Wexler Sherman, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
2014 New Investigator Research Grant
Millions of family members provide long-term, community-based care for people with Alzheimer’s, and caregivers can be severely strained by the emotional and physical demands of such intensive caregiving. In addition, Americans have increasingly diverse and complex marital and family histories due to sustained divorce rates, widowhood and remarriage. In previous studies examining support networks among remarried Alzheimer’s caregivers, results showed low rates of stepfamily participation in care and high levels of care-related tension and conflict, especially regarding financial and medical decision making. Such conflicts were associated with significantly higher levels of caregiver burden and depression. Existing caregiver interventions do not specifically address the unique challenges and needs of remarried Alzheimer’s caregivers.
Carey Wexler Sherman, Ph.D., and colleagues aim to develop a new, targeted psychoeducational intervention for remarried caregivers that will enhance their knowledge, skills and strategies for self-care and use of support. This study responds to the Alzheimer’s Association's call to develop new interventions that identify and target the special needs of subgroups of caregivers. The researchers will hold focus groups with remarried caregivers, Alzheimer’s experts and stepfamily members to gather input into the design of a Remarried Caregiver Program (RCP) curriculum. The RCP curriculum will then be delivered using readily available technologies (e.g., online modules, no-cost telephone conferencing) to extend RCP’s reach and accessibility, and minimize logistic challenges for participants. Then, using pre- and post-surveys and participant satisfaction questionnaires, the researchers will assess RCP’s impact on caregiver outcomes (e.g. social support, well-being) at one month and three months post-intervention.
The aim of the RCP intervention is to lower burden and depression in caregivers, and instill a greater sense of self-efficacy and support in their caregiving role. Hopefully, this project could help support the growing number of remarried Alzheimer’s caregivers.