Karen Ann Smith

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

The School of Social Work

Rights Management

Rhode Island College


This quantitative and qualitative study explores the importance of timing in the delivery of the support services that affect the psychosocial health of primary family caregivers of dementia patients. Caregivers’ narratives and survey responses reflect their feelings about the impact the experience of caregiving has on their emotional, physical, and mental health as they struggle to manage the stressors of dealing with a patient’s physical care, as well as the additional medical, legal, financial, spiritual, and emotional tasks associated with end-of-life issues. The purpose of exploring the importance of timing in the delivery of support services is to ascertain if the caregivers feel that they experience reductions in the negative emotional response (chronic sorrow) engendered by these stressors if they are provided with services early in the caregiving process. The participants in the study indicate that they feel it is important to receive support services early and often during the course of the caregiving process. Delaying the start of support is perceived as adversely affecting their feelings of self-efficacy during the entirety of the caregiving experience. Three-fourths of this study’s participating caregivers report that the majority of their support and caregiving information is delivered through support group participation. They perceive that support group participation assists them in ameliorating some of the feelings associated with chronic sorrow.