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Even mild depression puts a burden on Alzheimer's family caregivers

Date:
September 21, 2015
Source:
University of Eastern Finland
Summary:
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 study. The study analyzed the psychological stress of family caregivers during a three-year period following the Alzheimer's diagnosis.
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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 recent University of Eastern Finland study.

The study analysed 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.

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 recognise family caregivers who need enhanced support."


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Materials provided by University of Eastern Finland. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. H. Valimaki, J. A. Martikainen, I. T. Hallikainen, S. T. Vaatainen, A. M. Koivisto. Depressed Spousal Caregivers Have Psychological Stress Unrelated to the Progression of Alzheimer Disease: A 3-Year Follow-Up Report, Kuopio ALSOVA Study. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 2015; DOI: 10.1177/0891988715598229

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University of Eastern Finland. "Even mild depression puts a burden on Alzheimer's family caregivers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150921091302.htm>.
University of Eastern Finland. (2015, September 21). Even mild depression puts a burden on Alzheimer's family caregivers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150921091302.htm
University of Eastern Finland. "Even mild depression puts a burden on Alzheimer's family caregivers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150921091302.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

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