"Captive by the Uncertainty"-Experiences with Anticipatory Guidance for People Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers at a Specialty Dementia Clinic
J Alzheimers Dis. 2022;86(2):787-800. doi: 10.3233/JAD-215203.
BACKGROUND: After a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, people living with dementia (PWD) and caregivers wonder what disease trajectory to expect and how to plan for functional and cognitive decline. This qualitative study aimed to identify patient and caregiver experiences receiving anticipatory guidance about dementia from a specialty dementia clinic.
OBJECTIVE: To examine PWD and caregiver perspectives on receiving anticipatory guidance from a specialty dementia clinic.
METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews with PWD, and active and bereaved family caregivers, recruited from a specialty dementia clinic. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and systematically summarized. Thematic analysis identified anticipatory guidance received from clinical or non-clinical sources and areas where respondents wanted additional guidance.
RESULTS: Of 40 participants, 9 were PWD, 16 were active caregivers, and 15 were bereaved caregivers. PWD had a mean age of 75 and were primarily male (n = 6/9); caregivers had a mean age of 67 and were primarily female (n = 21/31). Participants felt they received incomplete or "hesitant" guidance on prognosis and expected disease course via their clinicians and filled the gap with information they found via the internet, books, and support groups. They appreciated guidance on behavioral, safety, and communication issues from clinicians, but found more timely and advance guidance from other non-clinical sources. Guidance on legal and financial planning was primarily identified through non-clinical sources.
CONCLUSION: PWD and caregivers want more information about expected disease course, prognosis, and help planning after diagnosis. Clinicians have an opportunity to improve anticipatory guidance communication and subsequent care provision.