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The Impact of Social Policy on Alzheimer's Disease Patients and Their Family Caregivers

DiVirgilio-Thomas, Dana (2007) The Impact of Social Policy on Alzheimer's Disease Patients and Their Family Caregivers. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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OBJECTIVES: Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia, the group of brain disorders that cause memory loss and decline in mental function over time is the third most expensive disease in the nation, after heart disease and cancer. Average lifetime costs per patient are $174,000 with annual estimates of $80 to $100 billion dollars in health care expenses and lost wages for the AD patient or their family caregivers. The research study was designed to describe social policy and its affects on the eligibility and determination of benefits for two community-dwelling patients with AD and their caregivers in Southwestern Pennsylvania. METHODS: Secondary data analysis was conducted from data drawn from a previous study, "The Process of Medication Taking." Data for this study included participant observations, interactive unstructured informal interviews, open-ended formal interviews and case description. Constant comparative analysis is used to determine similarities and differences between cases. RESULTS: Family caregivers aim to achieve quality care and services for the AD patient. To achieve this objective, the family and patient's traverse a pathway of social care needs. Along the way, the family and caregivers approach milestones. These landmarks include accessing social services, cultivating a social support network, maintaining continuity of care, and managing the health care needs beyond the diagnosis of AD. Along the pathway to achieving the objective of quality care and services, there appear barriers and setbacks such as social service eligibility, location to eligible services and lack of support by family and friends. PUBLIC HEALTH SIGNIFICANCE: The amount of AD patients has doubled since 1980 and is expected to continue to expand to 11.3 to 16 million people by the year 2050. Furthermore, much of the long-term care is being provided by the family caregivers. Programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance do not cover all of the needs and financial obligations for patients and their families. Even after these public programs, families continue to remain financially responsible for the care of their family member. Therefore, policy focused on evaluating AD on the basis of diagnosis rather than social policy eligibility criteria, such as age, may be warranted to provide optimal benefits for patients and family caregivers.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAlbert, Steven Msalbert@pitt.eduSALBERT
Committee MemberDegenholtz, Howard Bdegen@pitt.eduDEGEN
Committee MemberHapp, Mary Emhapp@pitt.eduMHAPP
Date: 27 June 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 20 April 2007
Approval Date: 27 June 2007
Submission Date: 13 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; social policy; early-onset
Other ID:, etd-04132007-090144
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:36
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:40


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