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Alzheimer's caregivers have high rate of stress

16th September 2005

Family members caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer's have a higher rate of stress, distress and psychological illness, than those caring for members with other conditions according to a new study.

Published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, the study also revealed that female caregivers and those caring for people with neuropsychiatric symptoms are particularly at risk.

The team, from the department of mental health at University College London, analysed a group of 153 people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and their caregivers who were part of a larger AD study.

It was found 23.5 per cent of caregivers scored at or above caseness level for anxiety, and 10.5 per cent for depression.

Many of the participants were found to have symptoms of anxiety disorder due to daily living impairment, living with a care-recipient, having a poor quality relationship with the care recipient and poor health.

Those registering symptoms of depression were affected by poor health, and the care-recipients irritability.

Researchers undertaking the study concluded that clinicians should be aware of the high rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms in family caregivers of people with AD, especially in females.

The team also said the impaired physical health of caregivers put them at risk for psychological morbidity.

The study highlights the importance of break time and holidays for care-givers, through palliative care systems or charities.