New online intervention tools will grapple with impact of dementia on Hispanics

June 14, 2013
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A team of researchers at Columbia School of Nursing is developing a new Web-based intervention system for those in the Hispanic community with dementia and their caregivers to assist in educating them about the unique ways cognitive diseases affect Hispanic seniors.

Dementia is twice as prevalent in Hispanics than in Caucasians, according to the 2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. The current body of research, conducted among predominantly white participants, may have missed the stressors and accompanying factors that occur in Hispanics with dementia and their families.

“Studies show that when caregiver stress leads to nursing home placement for a person with dementia, feelings of guilt are more common in Hispanics, who are less likely to delegate the care of affected relatives to outside agencies,” according to a fact sheet from the Columbia School of Nursing. “When compared to their non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black counterparts, Hispanic caregivers are more depressed, usually younger, and more likely to have children or grandchildren under the age of 18 in their household.”

The 5-year, $2.7 million project, called the Family-Health Information Management System (Family-HIMS), will produce online tools for education, care planning, and care coordination fully rendered in both English and Spanish. A base registry of 300 dementia caregivers will take part in the survey to determine the cultural factors that affect dementia care within the Hispanic demographic, as well as the impacts of stress, depression and burden on the caregivers themselves. Spanish-speaking and English-speaking families will test the system.

“Information on caregiver interventions for Hispanics is limited,” said lead reasearcher Robert J. Lucero, PhD, MPH, RN, in a Columbia University release. “This research program is one of the largest studies of its kind to study the long-term effectiveness of culturally-sensitive counseling and support groups, and test a novel technology-based intervention that supports education and health management for Hispanic caregivers.”

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