Thursday, July 21

When Diagnosing Alzheimer's, Diagnose the Caregiver's Health, Too

PAY EXTRA ATTENTION to the care-partner's health during an Alzheimer's diagnosis, says an important study. Nurses or doctors can easily spot caregivers in need of enhanced support with a quick inquiry. Find out how simple & essential this can be.

Caregiving for an Alzheimer's patient is especially burdensome for spousal and family caregivers who at the time of their near and dear one's Alzheimer's diagnosis suffer from depressive symptoms, according to a University of Eastern Finland study.

Caregiver Stress and Psychological Load

The study analyzed the psychological stress of family caregivers during a three-year period following the Alzheimer's diagnosis. The study constitutes part of the ALSOVA project involving 236 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and their family caregivers. The study participants were voluntarily recruited from the memory disorder clinics of three Finnish central and university hospitals. The patients participating in the study were at the onset diagnosed with a very mild or mild form of Alzheimer's disease.

The results indicate that the heaviest psychological stress was experienced by family caregivers who at the time of diagnosis suffered from depressive symptoms. "The occurrence of even mild depressive symptoms predicted a psychological load on the family caregiver irrespective of, for example, the progression of the disease," says Researcher Tarja Välimäki of the Department of Nursing Science.

Check Caregiver's Health at Time of Diagnosing Alzheimer's

The study also found that the psychological stress of spousal caregivers was greater already at the onset of the study than that of other family caregivers, and that the psychological stress of spousal caregivers also increased during the follow-up.

According to the study researchers, the results suggest that it is wise to pay attention also to the family caregiver's health at the time of the Alzheimer's diagnosis. "A depression inquiry carried out by, for example, a memory nurse would make it possible to recognize family caregivers who need enhanced support."


Comment or Share:

  1. So who will care about the care giver? I had no one.

    1. Having no one either - - I turned to the Alzheimer's Association. Their social workers and class givers helped me find hope again. Other caregivers that I met at meetings reached out to me and made the struggle a little easier. There are people "out there" willing to help.


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