Effect of Reading and Discussing a Storybook about Alzheimer's Disease on Children and Parents

Erin Sakai
There are many without whom I could not have dreamed of accomplishing this project. First, I wish to thank my advisor and mentor, Brian Carpenter, for his significant dedication to my training. His practical guidance and willingness to challenge me, coupled with his encouragement and enthusiasm not only during the course of this project, but throughout my graduate training, has been invaluable. I am also grateful to the members of my dissertation committee, Wendy Anderson, Jan Duchek, Denise
more » ... d, Lori Markson, and Nancy Morrow-Howell, for their thoughtful discussion and feedback throughout the dissertation process. Recognizing the commitment of research participation, I am greatly appreciative of the many young children and parents who participated in this study. It is through their enthusiasm that this project, and future research in this area, could take place. I also appreciate those who facilitated recruitment, including Dr. Lori Markson, the Ladue School District, and the University City School District. In addition, I would like to thank the past and current members of the Clinical Geropsychology Lab for their perspectives on clinical, scholarly, and professional issues. These discussions have shaped my conceptualization and approach to aging and older adulthood. Finally, I am grateful for the support that my family and friends have provided throughout the years. Their encouragement and belief in me has inspired me during this journey. vi Dedication To my grandparents. It is through my relationships with you that I came to recognize my passion for working with older adults and their families. The values and support that you have provided our family are inestimable. vii ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION by Erin Yukie Sakai Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology Washington University in St. Louis, 2014 Professor Brian D. Carpenter, Chair Currently, there are 5.2 million Americans over the age of 65 with Alzheimer's disease (AD; Alzheimer's Association, 2013). Given the growing proportion of the population that is over age 65, the number of people who will develop Alzheimer's disease is expected to increase significantly over the next 20 years. One consequence of that trend is that more young children (i.e., ages 4-12) are likely to encounter AD through a grandparent or great-grandparent with the disease. While it is unknown exactly how many young children have grandparents or greatgrandparents with the disease, 30 percent of dementia caregivers also have children under 18 years old (National Alliance for Caregiving & AARP, 2009), suggesting that dementia does, in fact, have an impact on many children. Alzheimer's disease can affect young children in many ways: children may experience confusion about their relative's condition or their changed relationship with their relative, they may feel isolated or neglected due to decreased attention from parents who are in AD caregiving roles, and they may be asked to take on additional household chores or caregiving responsibilities themselves. Yet, there are few opportunities for young children to receive information about AD, despite the fact that this information may influence their attitudes and responses to AD and people with AD. Among the different ways children can learn about AD, viii storybooks are one way of presenting children with information about AD, with potential benefits for children and for parents. The current study utilized a within-subjects, repeated-measures design with two interventions, 1) reading a storybook about AD to young children, and 2) having a subsequent discussion about the book with their children. Outcome measures for children and parents included AD knowledge, attitudes about AD, willingness to interact with people with AD, as well as emotional responses to the AD storybook (i.e., positive and negative affect). Parent selfperceived confidence in discussing AD with their children was also assessed. In addition, child and parent satisfaction with the storybook and discussion was evaluated. Fifty-five parent-child dyads participated in this study. There was a significant overall effect of the interventions on both the child and parent dependent variables, particularly after reading the storybook, with AD knowledge increasing, attitudes improving, and willingness to interact with individuals with AD increasing. Meanwhile, the interventions did not appear to have a negative impact on child or parent emotions. The findings from this study suggest that storybooks can, in fact, be useful tools for providing information and influencing attitudes and behaviors in the context of AD for both young children and their parents. Results from this study may provide an initial step toward identifying appropriate interventions to increase AD health literacy in both young children and their parents.
doi:10.7936/k7f18wvm fatcat:cfcnyhf3zjazrgql4onf4elwju