Burden of care, social support, and sense of coherence in elderly caregivers living with individuals with symptoms of dementia

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Family members are often the care providers of individuals with dementia, and it is assumed that the need for this will increase. There has been little research into the association between the burden of care and the caregiver's sense of coherence or receipt of social support. This study examined the relationship between the social support subdimensions and sense of coherence and the burden of care among older people giving care to a partner with dementia. The study was a cross-sectional observation study of 97 individuals, ≥65 years old and living with a partner who had symptoms of dementia. We used the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly, the Relative Stress Scale, the Social Provisions Scale, the Sense of Coherence Scale, and a questionnaire on sociodemographic variables. We used multiple regression analysis in a general linear model procedure. We defined statistical significance as p < 0.05. With adjustments for sociodemographic variables, the association with burden of care was statistically significant for the subdimension attachment (p < 0.01) and for sense of coherence (p < 0.001). The burden of care was associated with attachment and with sense of coherence. Community nurses and other health professionals should take necessary action to strengthen attachment and sense of coherence among the caregivers of people with dementia. Qualitative studies could provide deeper understanding of the variation informal caregivers experience when living together with their partner with dementia.

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