National League of NursingNational League of Nursing

The Voice of Nursing Education

Caregiver Strain with Alzheimer's Dementia

ACE-Z tryptich


Caregiver Strain with Alzheimer’s Dementia: Treating the Caregiver 

Printer friendly version of this teaching strategy

Overview of Teaching Strategy

Alzheimer’s  dementia  is  a  progressive  disease  often  embodied  with  behavioral  and personality changes for the inflicted individual. It is a disease that directly affects families and caregivers. As behavior and cognition changes, caregivers must constantly adjust their approach. The stress associated with caregiving affects mood, personal relationships, and even morbidity (Okan 2012, Adams, 2008 ). Factors such as education, available resources, and the physical condition of the caregiver directly affect the outcomes of both the patient and the caregiver (Etters et al, 2008). 

Negative repercussions for the patient can result from caregivers experiencing unmanageable stress. In addition, the unmet needs of the caregiver can negatively impact the quality of their lives (Vaubgabjar, J. et al 2013). There may be differences in factors related to burnout if the caregiving is considered informal, such as a family member, or someone hired specifically to caretake the patient. When the burden to care for a family member with dementia becomes too overwhelming, placement in a facility often results in guilt and anxiety (Sury, L. et al, 2013). 

Nurses need to include family members in their approach to treatment of the patient with Alzheimer’s disease. By understanding how to screen caregivers for evidence of burnout, students are better prepared to more holistically treat the patient. Early screening and multi- component interventions can improve outcomes both for the caregiver and the patient (Etters et al, 2008). This teaching strategy offers activities to help the student better understand the impact of stress on the caregiver, screen for this impact, and construct strategies to address the strain. It is a teaching strategy that can be adapted to both in-class and online settings. 

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Develop an understanding of common symptoms of caregiver strain
  • Utilize standardized tools to evaluate caregiver strain
  • Recognize the encompassing implications of caregiver strain for both the caregiver and the patient
  • Develop interventions applicable to addressing caregiver strain
  • Investigate available specific community resources to support the person caring for the patient with Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Articulate the impact of stress on the multidisciplinary team caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Better understand the transitional adjustment of all caregivers in coping with the insidious decline of the patient with Alzheimer’s dementia

ACE.S Knowledge Domains 

  • Individualized Aging
  • Complexity of Care
  • Vulnerability During Transitions 

ACE.S Essential Nursing Actions 

  • Assess Function and Expectations
  • Coordinate and Manage Care
  • Use Evolving Knowledge
  • Make Situational Decisions 

NLN Competencies for Graduates of Nursing Programs

  • Nursing Judgment
  • Spirit of Inquiry

To begin, use the links below:
Getting Started
Suggested Reading
Author Information