It is a reality that people living with dementia are taken care of by family members in the vast majority of cases. This is extremely tasking emotionally, physically, and financially, and often times carers describe their experience as extremely stressful and frustrating. It is estimated that more than 80% of Alzheimer’s disease caregivers experience these feelings.
When faced with the impact of supporting someone someone living with dementia, carers might experience higher incidence of depression, illness, and a decrease in quality of life. Furthermore, also the individuals taken care of experience the consequences of carers feeling in such a way, as carers might get burnt-out and opt for earlier nursing home placement.
A globally ageing population and a consequently higher number of expected dementia cases, logically entails a higher incidence of the impact of supporting someone living with dementia. It appears clear that identifying and reducing this occurrence is a pressing healthcare issue.
Supporting caregivers emotionally, physically and economically as much as possible is important. How can this be done? There are some interventions that have proven effective. For example, educating caregivers about possible environmental changes in their home has been shown to reduce the rate of early nursing home placement. But the best interventions have been shown to be the multimodal ones, providing carers with counselling education, psycho-education, respite care. After such interventions, caregivers scored significantly lower the impact of supporting someone living with dementia.
Early detection of this occurrence is particularly important as well. Providing periodic screening of carers could be one option, offering all the support and interventions needed in case carers were showing initial signs of distress. Helping with the impact of supporting someone living with dementia, and delaying institutionalisation, also has economic and social consequences, helping to reduce the very high costs related to long-term care, even though sometimes opting for a nursing home might be the most sensible choice, given that many times the carers are also elderly.
source: Etters, L. (2008), Caregiver Burden among dementia patient caregivers: A review of the literature. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 20(8), pp. 423-428