Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Special Education

First Advisor

Tamara B. Cranfill

Second Advisor

Melba G. Custer

Third Advisor

Donna J. Corley

Abstract

In a survey, 50% of 1,000 caregivers reported that they received no information on dementia at the time of diagnosis (Thompson & Pulsford, 2012). This statistic provides strong evidence as to why caregivers feel ill-prepared to care for individuals with dementia. The role of a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is suggested to not only treat the individual with dementia, but consider the role and perspective of the caregiver (Watson, Aizawa, Savundranayagam & Orange, 2013). Providing education and training to caregivers of individuals with dementia is within the scope of practice of speech-language pathologists (Watson et al., 2013).

A survey design for the current study examined SLPs' attitudes of incorporating family members and caregivers into therapy with individuals with dementia. A web survey was submitted to seek participants. Intermittent descriptive texts were included in the survey to allow SLPs to comment further on their responses.

Fifty-nine SLPs completed the survey. All participants reported providing communication training∕counseling to family members and caregivers of individuals with dementia. SLPs reported observing a positive difference in the individuals with dementia and both care provider groups when incorporated into therapy. However, limitations such as "availability of the care provider" and "time" were ranked as high factors prohibiting inclusion. Overall, results of the current study suggest that incorporating and providing communication training/counseling to both care provider groups has positive outcomes.

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