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Keywords

 

Authors

  1. Paun, Olimpia PhD, RN, CS

Abstract

Spirituality is a valuable aspect in providing holistic care to Alzheimer's disease (AD) caregivers. This descriptive study explored the experience of AD caregiving in 14 older women. A sample of African American and Caucasian participants presented spirituality and religion as essential aspects of their caregiving. Taking charge, adjusting/coping, making sense of the situation, and looking into the future were the themes that reflected spiritual/religious issues. The caregivers shared similar religious practices, but differed in the way they used spirituality and religious beliefs to construct the meaning of their experience. Implications for holistic care include incorporation of these differences in nursing practice.

 

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is an incurable, degenerative brain disorder affecting older adults, in most cases. It is estimated that over 4 million Americans are currently diagnosed with AD. 1 More than half of those with AD receive care at home from family members or friends who are predominantly women.

 

Researchers initially studied AD family caregiving based on the stress and coping framework. 2 Positive aspects of AD caregiving, such as spirituality and religious factors, became the focus of research in later years. 3,4 In addition, research examining the ethnic and multicultural aspects of AD family caregiving has recently increased, adding another valuable facet to the growing body of AD caregiving literature.

 

This qualitative study explored the experience of AD caregiving in a sample (N = 14) of African American (n = 5) and Caucasian (n = 9) older women. While the study's specific aims targeted participants' perceptions of meaning, choice, and motivation in caregiving, participants described at length their spirituality, religious beliefs, and practices as an essential part of their AD caregiving. In this article, the author will focus specifically on a comparison of spirituality and religious beliefs and practices of the African American and Caucasian female participants in this study.