Living with dementia is tough enough, but caring for those with the disease can be just as difficult and stressful. However, keeping an eye on the well-being of those caregivers is often ignored.
Australian researchers sought to find out out just how common burden is on caregivers of people with dementia that attend memory clinics. Henry Brodaty, MD, of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre and the Centre for Healthy Brain Aging at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, led a study examining 732 outpatients attendees and their primary caregivers at baseline, as well as 3, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months.
Ratings were based on the following: dementia diagnosis according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Mini-Mental State Exam, Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale–Cognitive, Functional Autonomy Measurement System, Neuropsychiatric Inventory, use of psychotropic and antidepressant medications, patient and caregiver resource use, and the Zarit Caregiver Burden Interview (ZBI).
Results, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found that half the caregivers had significantly high levels of burden, rising to 57.7% at 12 months. Mean ZBI levels rising from 22.9% at baseline to 25.5% at 6 months and 27.7 at 12 months. Caregiver predictors of 6- and 12-month burden were their neuroticism and baseline ZBI score. Patient predictors were their level of behavioral symptoms, use of antipsychotics and antidepressants, and more rapid functional decline.
“Caregivers of people with dementia have high and persistent rates of burden,” the researchers concluded. “Identification of caregivers likely to have high levels of burden at 12 months may allow more accurate targeting of interventions.”
This prospective cohort study conducted at nine memory clinics in Australia rated 732 outpatient attendees and their primary caregivers at baseline and at 3, 6, 12, 24, and 36 months. The objective is to examine prevalence and predictors of burden in caregivers of people with dementia attending memory clinics.