Date of Conferral





Human Services


Dorothy Scotten



In 2016, a dramatic shift occurred in demographics in the United States because the oldest people in the baby boomer generation, which consists of people born between 1946 and 1964, reached age 65. The larger aging population and longer lifespans have produced an increased need for care and services. There are an estimated 5.4 million Americans of varying ages living with a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Diagnoses of Alzheimer's disease are more prevalent among African Americans than other ethnicities. With little research found on culturally appropriate interventions for specific ethnic groups, a more detailed review of the experiences of African American women was necessary to explore the relationship between caring for loved ones with dementia and managing lifestyles. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of African American women who care for their loved ones with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Guided by the conceptual framework of attachment theory, a phenomenological study design was used with semistructured interviews of 10 caregivers to examine their experiences and how they cope with caring for loved ones with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The results of the thematic analyses of the collected data uncovered 6 main themes: sense of responsibility, grounded in faith, guidance for future caregivers, difficult journey, caregiver challenges, and coping strategies. The study may positively impact social change by informing health care professionals who may use the findings to help African American families caing for loved ones to apply interventions, use services, and manage resources more efficiently.