People who care for elderly relatives with dementia without formal training often experience overwhelming stress, a new study claims.
Researchers from Penn State University and the Benjamin Rose Institute found that this stress can sometimes lead to breakdowns and depression, according to their article in Aging & Mental Health.
Behaviour issues are a common stressor, while this can be compounded by the sense of loss felt as a relationship with a loved-one deteriorates, claims lead author Steven Zarit.
A wide range of stressors that can be experienced by one caregiver, meaning that traditionally-recommended coping skills may be ineffective, he adds.
"The family has to pay the physical, emotional, and financial cost of the caring, which can be staggering. When the caregiver gets overwhelmed, it raises the probability of a breakdown in the care situation," Mr Zarit said.
There are currently around 820,000 people in the UK living with dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Research Trust.
Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes.