Psychological well-being of informal caregivers of elderly people with dementia: Changes over time

A. M. Pot*, D. J.H. Deeg, R. Van Dyck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Psychological well-being of caregivers of demented elderly people was investigated during two years of follow-up. Three groups of caregivers were distinguished: those providing care for two years after baseline; those whose care-recipient died within the first year after baseline, and those whose care-recipient was institutionalized within the first year. Compared to general population norms, all groups of caregivers showed a great amount of psychological distress, especially those whose elder suffering from dementia deceased within the first year after baseline. The course of psychological well-being of caregivers who continued to provide care during follow-up supported the wear-and-tear model: an overall deterioration of psychological well-being was found (measured by the GHQ-12, SCL-90-R and SWLS) as elders' functioning declined and caregiving at home continued. Specific increases were found on total amount of psychological distress, but also on the SCL-90-R subscales: Depression, Anxiety, Interpersonal Sensitivity and Paranoid Ideation and Difficulty with Cognitive Performance. No overall changes were found for caregivers whose demented care-recipient had died or was institutionalized in the first year after baseline. These data suggest that the high level of psychological distress and the deterioration in psychological well-being among informal caregivers of dementia patients is a reason to reconsider the merits of the current trend to have demented older people live on their own as long as possible. Additional support should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-268
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997

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