"Special steps": an effective visiting/walking program for persons with cognitive impairment.
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A program for elderly persons with cognitive impairment and their caregivers was evaluated for its effectiveness and efficiency with regard to caregiver burden, sense of coherence, satisfaction, and cost to the health-care system. The program consisted of a weekly 2-hour visit and walk by volunteers. During a 9-month period in 1997, all eligible referrals were randomly assigned to receive the service immediately (experimental group) or be placed on a waiting list to receive it 6 weeks later (control group). Eleven caregivers/recipients formed the experimental group; 10 caregivers/recipients formed the control group. All completed questionnaires at randomization and at 6-week follow-up. Perceived burden decreased by 8% only for the caregivers in the experimental group (F = 6.8, p = .02). They indicated that they appreciated the respite and support and that the care recipient enjoyed the visit/walk. Although this study was short in duration and small in sample size, improvements were noted in perceived caregiver burden and caregivers expressed satisfaction with the program. The program did not result in additional health and social-service expenditures.
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