Problem and Purpose
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has become one of the leading death causes according to a recent report (Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2016). AD affects people on a cognitive level, causing them to lose their memory skills and reasoning abilities (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). To provide proper palliative care, it is crucial to promote active family support; thus, patients will be able to retain their cognitive skills (Alzheimer’s Disease International, 2016). However, the current approaches lack consistency, which means that the introduction of therapy involving active family counseling is crucial.
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The goal of the paper is to study the effects of family support with and without family counseling services. Thus, a better understanding of the significance thereof will be possible. Furthermore, the results of the study will inform the development of recommendations concerning family counseling strategies. As a result, a more efficient approach toward meeting the need of AD patients will be developed.
DSM-V defines AD as a neurocognitive disorder leading to a mental impairment including cognitive deficits and a steep rise in patients’ dependency levels (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The specialist care model that is nowadays used to address the needs of patients with AD, however, does not allow reaching out to every community (Sharma, Bhandari, Deshmukh, Yadav, & Mishra, 2016). However, impressive progress has been made in managing the needs of AD patients as far as the strategies of patient care are concerned (Aaseth et al., 2016). Particularly, the significance of family support has become evident and is, therefore, actively supported. At the same time, the need for inpatient services and provision of the relevant information and services to caregivers, including the Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST), is stressed extensively (Ahmed & Boisvert, 2013). Therefore, a choice needs to be made between the use of family communication as an auxiliary tool for supporting AD patients and the application of consultations and guided family therapy with the following CST for the family members (Sharma et al., 2016).
The patients from Group A (i.e., family support guided with counseling) show a stronger propensity toward recovering their mental functions than the patients from Group B (no counseling is offered), whereas their family members show a lower tendency toward developing stress.
There is no statistical difference in the changes of patient-family member dynamics from Group A and Group B.
Since two strategies of meeting the needs of AD patients had to be compared, it was crucial to quantify the data and, therefore, to adopt a quantitative approach. For this purpose, a quasi-experimental model was conducted. In a local facility, 40 participants were selected for the study and split into groups A (use of counseling techniques) and B (control group). A sample of 16 patient-family member pairs was selected with the help of a random sampling technique. Thus, the possibility of research biases was avoided. To collect the data, the General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition (GPCOG) for evaluating patients (Alzheimer’s Association, 2002) and the DSM–5 Self-Rated test for evaluating the condition of family members (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) was used. The ANOVA test was taken to compare the data sets from the two groups. The validity of the instrument is justified by the fact that it is suggested by the Alzheimer’s Association (Alzheimer’s Association, 2002).
The results of the test have shown that, with a confidence interval of 0.95 and a p-value reaching 1.82, the statistical significance of the differences between patient outcomes in Group A and Group B is quite high. In other words, the null hypothesis is rejected in the study. Consequently, there is a reason to assume that the adoption of the techniques based on counseling as the foundation for family therapy is much more efficient than the traditional promotion of uncontrolled communication between AD patients and their family members.
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The outcomes of the study point to the fact that there is a strong need in introducing counseling as the tool for not only meeting the needs of patients but also preventing the development of mental issues in their family members. The test results indicate that, while being based on good intentions the choices made by family members without proper guidance from healthcare practitioners may trigger problems in the communication process. As a result, the efficacy of the treatment provided to the patients may be jeopardized. Furthermore, family members may also be under the threat of developing a health condition, e.g., depression, anxiety, etc. Therefore, it is essential that counseling and guidance should be provided as the foundation for communication between AD patients and their families.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The results of the study indicate that it is imperative to provide counseling services and offer guidance for the families of patients with AD. The identified measure is crucial to not only the quality of patients’ lives but also the needs of their families, particularly, prevention of depression and similar disorders in caregivers. Therefore, family sessions involving CST are required. As a result, a rapid rise in the quality of palliative care, as well as a steep drop in the instances of depression, anxiety, and similar disorders development among the family members of AD patients, is expected. Thus, consultations are strongly recommended.
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