Responses and Interventions to Delusions Experienced by Community-Dwelling Older Persons With Dementia

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Abstract

We examined how family caregivers react, and what interventions they use in response to delusions exhibited by relatives with dementia in a community setting. Structured interviews were conducted with 68 family caregivers whose relatives were described as experiencing delusions based on the BEHAVE-AD or the NPI. Quantitatively, we cross-tabulated the type of response to delusion by the type of person providing the response and by the type of delusion manifested. Qualitatively, we analyzed open-ended responses to understand the types of caregivers’ responses to delusions, the contextual circumstances, and the impact of the responses. Caregiver responses to delusions included “Explaining that the delusion was wrong” (34% of responses), “Trying to calm down” (27%), “Agreeing with the delusion” (13%), “Distracting” (12%), and “Ignoring” (10%). Responses including “Anger, yelling or scolding,” were rare. The vast majority of reactions were by family caregivers of the persons with dementia. The relative frequency of the type of reaction tended to be consistent across delusion types. The qualitative analyses added some categories of reactions, but mostly highlighted issues to be considered when examining responses and their efficacy, including the use of multiple responses, and the manner and mood in which responses are conveyed. To cope with delusions, family caregivers develop intuitive intervention techniques. Understanding those interventions and reactions by caregivers and their relative efficacy can inform guidance programs for family caregivers. Improved support for family caregivers has the potential to positively influence the behavior of caregivers and older adults with dementia and improve their respective quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-635
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • delusions
  • dementia
  • family caregivers
  • non-pharmacological approaches
  • older adults

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