Date of Conferral
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a fatal disorder with no apparent cure. Early-onset AD (EOAD) occurs in individuals before the age of 65, and late-onset AD (LOAD) occurs in individuals age 65 and older. Past studies have proven that AD is fatal among Americans age 65 and older. The disease is characterized by impairments in memory and executive function as well as other cognitive and behavioral problems. The research questions addressed by this sequential, mixed-method study compared EOAD and LOAD by exploring common behavioral/cognitive symptoms and stage levels of AD. Research participants were recruited from the Alzheimer's Association who were members of caregiver support groups and cared for an individual with AD. The qualitative component of this study consisted of a qualitative interview given to caregivers (N = 6), which was audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim using the 6-phase thematic analysis. Sequentially, the quantitative component of this study consisted of the BEHAVE-AD and Short IQCODE instruments, which were filled out and completed by caregivers (N = 20) on behalf of patients with probable AD. These data were analyzed using 1-way ANOVA, with the alpha set at 0.05. Integration of qualitative and quantitative results indicated no differences in cognitive or behavioral symptoms of either EOAD or LOAD care recipients. These findings have implications for positive social change by continually involving caregiver participants in future studies. Doing so can ensure that care recipients, whether they have been diagnosed at EOAD or LOAD, have a voice.