Anxiety and depression in community-dwelling, Italian Alzheimer's disease caregivers

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Family caregiving for those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease is an important but understudied area in Italian nursing. Population ageing and the existing burden of care for family caregivers indicate that there will be enormous pressure on families in the future to provide adequate and culturally appropriate care. This study attempted to redress this situation by examining anxiety and depression among 34 female Italian Alzheimer's caregivers over a total of 816 caregiving days. A descriptive, repeated measures design was used, using three instruments to survey caregiving: a General Questionnaire about Caregiving, the Spielberg State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Geriatric Depression Scale. Findings indicated that caregivers suffered high levels of anxiety (76%) and depression (42%). Statistical analyses showed that the anxiety and depression scores were positively correlated with hours of care, physical and psychological illness scores, and negatively correlated with level of education and time for leisure activities. However, no significant correlations were found with the Mini Mental State Examination scores, demonstrating that the burden of care is large, irrespective of the extent of mental impairment. Implications of the findings suggest that support and assistance given to Italian caregivers might be inadequate, particularly with respect to respite services and educational support.

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