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Alzheimer's disease, dementia, family caregiving, problematic behaviors



  1. Gerdner, Linda A.
  2. Buckwalter, Kathleen C.
  3. Reed, David


Background: Eighty percent of persons with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders are cared for by family members who often lack adequate support and training for this all-consuming job.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of a longitudinal, multisite, community-based intervention designed to teach home caregivers to manage behavioral problems in persons with Alzheimer's disease.


Methods: Usable data were analyzed from 237 caregiver/care recipient dyads (n = 132 Experimental;n = 105 Comparison). The experimental group received a psychoeducational nursing intervention that was conceptually grounded in the Progressively Lowered Stress Threshold model (Hall & Buckwalter, 1987). The comparison group received routine information and referrals for case management, community-based services, and support groups. Although a variety of psychosocial outcomes were compared between caregivers in the two groups, this article focuses on frequency and response to behavioral problems and functional decline.


Results: The Progressively Lowered Stress Threshold intervention had a statistically significant effect on spousal response to memory/behavioral problems (p < .01) for all caregivers and on response to activities of daily living problems (p < .01) for spousal caregivers. In addition, nonspouses in the experimental group reported a reduction in the frequency of memory/behavioral problems (p < .01). No intervention effect on reports of activities of daily living frequencies was found for either spouses or nonspouses.


Conclusions: This Progressively Lowered Stress Threshold-based intervention had a positive impact on both the frequency of and response to problem behaviors among spousal caregivers.