Supporting the Caregiver in Dementia: A Guide for Health Care Professionals

By Beattie, Elizabeth | Research and Theory for Nursing Practice, July 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Supporting the Caregiver in Dementia: A Guide for Health Care Professionals


Beattie, Elizabeth, Research and Theory for Nursing Practice


Supporting the Caregiver in Dementia: A Guide for Health Care Professionals Sheila M. LoboPrabhu, Victor A. Molinari, and James W. Lomax (Eds.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (www.press.jhu.edu), 2006, 312 pp., $55.00 (hardcover).

The complexity and challenge of caring for persons with dementia is widely acknowledged by formal and informal caregivers alike. What has been absent from the professional caregiving literature is a comprehensive, accessible reference book that brings together contributions from experts in the field summarizing the current state of the art and science of caregiving. This compact volume provides an invaluable resource for professionals in the field, utilizing both transtheoretical and psychodynamic perspectives to inform our knowledge of who caregivers are and how they engage in, and extract meaning from, the caregiving experience.

The book is divided into five parts, beginning with a history of caregiving that creates a context for those new to the field and a revisiting of developments for those more familiar with it. Author Zarit's leadership and immersion in the field make this an engrossing read. The second part of the book deals with individual caregivers of those with dementia, offering compelling insights into the characteristics, roles, and cost of caregiving; vignettes illustrating stages in the caregiving experience; and a brief special issues section touching on financial and legal planning, caregiver stress, and elder abuse. The final chapter in this part succinctly presents research evidence for the tolls of caregiving, highlighting the most critical research findings in the area of burden, guidance for assessment, and suggestions for a research agenda for the future. The third part of the book examines interpersonal aspects of caregiving through the various lenses of attachment theory; psychodynamic theory; religion and spirituality; intimacy and sexuality; and grief, loss, and death. The fourth part of the book explores within a biopsychosocial framework treatment implications and the multidisciplinary approach to effective caregiving. The final part covers the social issues raised by the caregiving phenomenon in dementia, the impact of health care policy on the caregiver experience, the special needs of ethnic elders, and issues in the ethics of caregiving.

The strengths of this book are many. The authors form a strong cadre of experienced clinicians and researchers who work with informal caregivers on a daily basis. …

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