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Caregiving and dementia: Wikis


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As populations age, caregiving and dementia become more common aspects of life. In most mild to medium cases of dementia the primary caregiver is a family member, usually a spouse or adult child. Over time more and more professional care in the form of nursing and other supportive care may be required, whether at home or in a long term care facility.

A small recent study in the US concluded that patients whose caregivers had a realistic understanding of the prognosis and clinical complications of late dementia were less likely to receive aggressive treatment near the end of life. "[1]


Family carers

The role of family caregivers has also become more prominent, as care in the familiar surroundings of home may delay onset of some symptoms and postpone or eliminate the need for more professional and costly levels of care. Home-based care may entail tremendous economic, emotional, and even psychological costs as well. Family caregivers often give up time from work and forego pay in order to spend an average of 47 hours per week with an affected loved one, who frequently cannot be left alone. In a survey of patients with long term care insurance, the direct and indirect costs of caring for an Alzheimer's disease patient averaged $77,500 per year in the United States.[2] Caregivers are themselves subject to increased incidence of depression, anxiety, and, in some cases, physical health issues.[3][4][5]



Shulz et al. concluded in a US study that "The transition to institutional care is particularly difficult for spouses, almost half of whom visit the patient daily and continue to provide help with physical care during their visits. Clinical interventions that better prepare the caregiver for a placement transition and treat their depression and anxiety following placement may be of great benefit to these individuals."[6] Thommessen et al. found in a Norwegian study that the most common stressors reported were "disorganization of household routines, difficulties with going away for holidays, restrictions on social life, and the disturbances of sleep..." and that this was common to carers for dementia, stroke and Parkinson's disease patients.[7] In a Japanese study by Hirono et al. they assessed that "the patients' functional and neuropsychiatric impairments were main patient's factors to increase the caregiver's burden."[8] An Italian study by Marvardi et al. found "...that patients' behavioral disturbances and disability were the major predictors of the time-dependent burden; the psychophysical burden was explained mainly by caregiver anxiety and depression."[9] A Finnish study by Leinonen et al. found that "Among the general psychogeriatric patient groups, the caregiving spouses of demented patients with noncognitive psychiatric symptoms are the most burdened group. However, spouses of depressive patients are as much burdened as those of demented patients with mild to moderate memory impairment."[10]

Anticipatory Grief

A caregiver is subject to anticipatory grief which varies as the dementia impairment progresses in the affected parent or spouse.[11] Feelings of loss and grief are frequent for current Alzheimer's family caregivers, who face anticipatory grief and ambiguous loss.[12][13]

Respite or day care

A Swedish study examined the effect on caregivers of patients who dropped out of respite care and day care, finding that the dropout patients' non-coresiding caregivers had "significantly higher values for worry, overload and role captivity, and a higher level of depression" than the caregivers of non-dropout.[14] Gaugler et al. found that "those individuals who utilized in-home help services earlier in their dementia caregiving careers were more likely to delay institutionalization."[15]

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ Treating Dementia, but Overlooking Its Physical Toll
  2. ^ MetLife Mature Market Institute (August 2006) (PDF). The MetLife Study of Alzheimer’s Disease: The Caregiving Experience. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  3. ^ Schulz R, O'Brien AT, Bookwala J and Fleissner K (December 1995). "Psychiatric and physical morbidity effects of dementia caregiving: prevalence, correlates, and causes". Gerontologist 35 (6): 771–791. PMID 8557205. 
  4. ^ Cooper C, Balamurali TB, Livingston G (April 2007). "A systematic review of the prevalence and covariates of anxiety in caregivers of people with dementia". International Psychogeriatrics 19 (2): 175–195. doi:10.1017/S1041610206004297. PMID 17005068. 
  5. ^ Adams KB (June 2008). "Specific effects of caring for a spouse with dementia: differences in depressive symptoms between caregiver and non-caregiver spouses". Journal of International Psychogeriatrics 20 (3): 508–20. PMID 17937825. 
  6. ^ Schulz R, Belle SH, Czaja SJ, McGinnis KA, Stevens A, Zhang S (2004-08-25). "Long-term care placement of dementia patients and caregiver health and well-being.". Journal of the American Medical Association 292 (8): 961–967. doi:10.1001/jama.292.8.961. PMID 15328328. 
  7. ^ Thommessen B, Aarsland D, Braekhus A, Oksengaard AR, Engedal K, Laake K (January 2002). "The psychosocial burden on spouses of the elderly with stroke, dementia and Parkinson's disease". International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 17 (1): 78–84. doi:10.1002/gps.524. PMID 11802235. 
  8. ^ Hirono N, Kobayashi H, Mori E (June 1998). "Caregiver burden in dementia: evaluation with a Japanese version of the Zarit caregiver burden interview" (in Japanese). No to Shinkei 50 (6): 561–567. PMID 9656252. 
  9. ^ Marvardi M, Mattioli P, Spazzafumo L, et al. (February 2005). "The Caregiver Burden Inventory in evaluating the burden of caregivers of elderly demented patients: results from a multicenter study.". Aging clinical and experimental research 17 (1): 46–53. PMID 15847122. 
  10. ^ Leinonen E, Korpisammal L, Pulkkinen LM, Pukuri T (April 2001). "The comparison of burden between caregiving spouses of depressive and demented patients". International journal of geriatric psychiatry 16 (4): 387–393. doi:10.1002/gps.351. PMID 11333426. 
  11. ^ Meuser TM, Marwit SJ (October 2001). "A comprehensive, stage-sensitive model of grief in dementia caregiving.". Gerontologist 41 (5): 658–670. PMID 11574711. 
  12. ^ Frank JB (2007 December-2008 January). "Evidence for grief as the major barrier faced by Alzheimer caregivers: a qualitative analysis". Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen 22 (6): 516–527. doi:10.1177/1533317507307787. PMID 18166611. 
  13. ^ Timmermann Sandra (September 2004). "Ronald Reagan, grief and bereavement: what we need to know about the grieving process" (PDF). Journal of Financial Service Professionals. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  14. ^ Måvall L, Thorslund M. (2007 September-October). "Does day care also provide care for the caregiver?". Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 45 (2): 137–150. doi:10.1016/j.archger.2006.10.005. PMID 17129621. 
  15. ^ Gaugler JE, Kane RL, Kane RA, Newcomer R. (April 2005). "Early community-based service utilization and its effects on institutionalization in dementia caregiving.". Gerontologist. 45 (2): 177–185. PMID 15799982. 


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