Kinship and cohabitation in relation to caregiver burden in the context of Alzheimer's disease: a 24-month longitudinal study

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Abstract

Objectives:

The aims of the study were to identify the clinical characteristics of three groups of caregivers: spouses, live-in adult–child or non-live-in adult–child, and their relation to the degree of perceived burden (Caregiver Burden Interview).

Methods:

The sample comprised 275 Alzheimer's disease primary caregivers, with a follow-up of 24 months. Cognitive, functional and behavioural characteristics were evaluated in persons with dementia, whilst sociodemographic data, use of socio-medical resources, physical and mental health and self-perceived burden were assessed in caregivers. Generalized estimating equations were used for longitudinal data analysis.

Results:

Spouse caregivers were 45.0% men, sole caregivers (>80%), used few external resources and had worse physical health. The number of female adult–child caregivers was higher (>75%). The live-in adult–child group, compared with the non-live-in adult–child group, was less likely to be married, had a lower level of education, was more commonly the sole caregiver and used fewer external resources. The greatest burden was observed in live-in adult–child caregivers, and the lowest in the non-live-in adult–child group, with no significant variation in the follow-up for both groups. Spouses had an intermediate level of perceived burden, which rose significantly during follow-up (p < 0.001).

Conclusions:

Kinship and cohabitation with the persons with dementia were associated with different scores and evolution of the burden, with an increase in the follow-up of the spouses, and with more or less burden, depending on cohabitation, in the adult–child groups. Interventions to reduce the level of burden on caregivers should consider these differences.

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