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Stimulus and Stress




This chapter addresses the importance of stress and coping in caring for older people with dementia. It maintains that stress is a normal phenomenon in our lives and that stress is useful and necessary for everyday functioning. On the other hand, it also emphasises that too much stress becomes distress and that distress can arise when copping skills are not effective. Coping strategies require intact memory and cognition to solve problems and recall effective past strategies.

Dementia alters cognition and memory. Therefore, the potential to cope is reduced. Families and friends are important and essential sources of information for caregivers to learn about the patterns of stress response of the older person and observation by caregivers will enable a better understanding of the patterns of stress response of the older person with dementia. Care planning should consider the stress-response patterns of the person receiving care.


Contents include

  • Introduction
  • When stress becomes distress
  • The optimal stimulus level
  • How do we show we are stressed?
    • Coping mechanisms for stress
    • Older people and coping
    • Stress in older people with dementia
    • Caregivers' reactions to stress-related behaviour in dementia
    • Caregiver understanding of behaviour
  • Summary
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Author / Editor Biographies

Associate Professor Sally Garratt has 31 years' experience as a nurse with 15 years in teaching. She has a particular interest in gerontological nursing and has undertaken research, consultancy and clinical practice in the field. One of her major projects has been the development of nursing-home care in Singapore and developing an understanding of the cultural differences in aged care in Asia and Australia. This book is the outcome of a research project undertaken to study the models of care provided for older people with dementia. The multidisciplinary approach taken by the project has genera...
Dr Sam Scherer has been involved with geriatric medicine for many years. He is currently medical director, Montefiore Homes for the Aged, and is a lecturer in geriatric medicine at Monash University, a clinical teacher at the University of Melbourne and visiting geriatrician at the Alfred Group of Hospitals. Sam has interests in dementia care, sleep disorders in older people and communication disorders. He has also been actively involved with Professor Helme at the North Western Hospital in Melbourne (formerly Mount Royal) in developing interactive teaching programs in geriatric medicine for c...
David works in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Communications at RMIT University in Melbourne. He has worked in aged care for the past nine years. Over the last four years, he has been involved in a wide range of research, writing and teaching activities to do with the relationship between leisure and care in supporting elders with a dementing illness.
Dr Jane Crisp lectures in communication, media studies and women's studies. Her experiences with her own mother, who is now in an advanced stage of dementia, first suggested to her the possibility of drawing on her professional background to help people who are dementing and those who care for them. For the last five years Jane has been working on the language of people who are dementing and on strategies for making sense of this language. She has given talks on this work and had articles published both in Australia and overseas. During 1994 she spent six months in France, meeting and exchangi...
Elery Hamilton-Smith is visiting Fellow, Lincoln Gerontology Centre, La Trobe University, Melbourne, and Director of Rethink Consulting Pty Ltd. He has 45 years' experience in social research and social planning, having worked at the community level, then as a social planning consultant across some 25 countries and eventually as a member of the Leisure Studies Department at Preston, later Phillip, Institute of Technology, then RMIT University. He has wide-ranging interests in social policy and social development, and has been a visiting professor at many universities in North America and Europ...

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