Identifying Preferences in Persons with Dementia: Systematic Preference Testing vs. Caregiver and Family Member Report

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One problem facing professional caregivers of dementia patients involves identifying preferences in patients with impaired verbal abilities. Long-term care staff often rely on the opinions of family or trial and error to discover patient preferences despite the availability of empirical methods for assessing preferences in nonverbal populations. The purpose of this study was to examine whether caregivers and family members could accurately determine the preferences of dementia patients. Patient preferences were determined using an empirical preference assessment while caregivers and family completed a self-report measure concerning their opinions about patient preferences. Results indicated that family and staff were relatively inaccurate in determining the preferences of patients. Results may have implications for developing more effective care plans and improving quality of life for persons with dementia residing in long-term care facilities.

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Clinical Gerontologist