When family members and friends begin caregiving for a loved one with dementia, their attention is immediately drawn to how best to manage their person’s day-to-day health and well-being.
What is less apparent is how many health care, legal, financial, social service, and family systems they will need to navigate along the way — and how daunting it can be for those without previous experience.
To address this issue, the National Institute on Aging has awarded a $3.5 million grant to the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing to study an online tool’s capacity to increase caregiver mastery.
The five-year R01 grant was awarded to professors Carolyn Clevenger, DNP, GNP-BC, FAANP, FGSA, FAAN, and Ken Hepburn, PhD, FGSA. The program they will be testing employs state-of-the-art, interactive learning methods that can be accessed asynchronously, providing flexible use for busy caregivers to help them understand and master the navigator role in which they find themselves.
With more than 11 million informal caregivers guiding the daily lives, fortunes, and care system interactions of persons living with dementia, providing support is of the utmost importance, noted Clevenger, a gerontological nurse practitioner and founder/director of the Emory Integrated Memory Care Clinic.
“Promoting effective coping behaviors by strengthening caregivers’ capacities for navigating interactions with systems and structures may reduce high levels of caregiver stress,” she adds. “We hope that ensuring that these systems and structures are effectively accessed and deployed will benefit persons with dementia as well.”
Family members and friends are often the core of care that keeps persons with dementia in their community settings — a reality that has both family and societal implications, says Hepburn, a gerontologist and dementia caregiving researcher. “The better-equipped caregivers are for navigating all aspects of care, the longer they can delay placing their loved ones into more costly institutional care settings,” he adds.
In addition to Clevenger and Hepburn, other School of Nursing faculty members working on the grant include Glenna Brewster, Fayron Epps, Melissa Higgins and Kalisha Bonds Johnson. Joining their work are Emory colleagues Joe Nocera of the Winship Cancer Institute, Molly Perkins of the School of Medicine/Department of Medicine Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology, and Sara Turbow of the Department of Family and Preventative Medicine.
This research is supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01AG082833. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The project also received pilot support through the Emory Roybal Center for Dementia Caregiving Mastery.
About the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
As one of the nation’s top nursing schools, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University is committed to educating visionary nurse leaders and scholars. Home to the No. 1 master’s, No. 3 BSN and No. 6 DNP programs nationwide, the school has been recognized as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League of Nursing. The school offers undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and non-degree programs, bringing together cutting-edge resources, distinguished faculty, top clinical experiences, and access to leading health care partners to shape the future of nursing and impact the world’s health and well-being. Learn more at nursing.emory.edu.