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The Emotional Impact of Psychiatric Symptoms in Dementia on Partner Caregivers: Do Caregiver, Patient, and Situation Characteristics Make a Difference?

Meiland, Franka J. M PhD*; Kat, Martin G MD; van Tilburg, Willem PhD, MD*; Jonker, Cees PhD, MD*; Dröes, Rose-Marie PhD*

Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders: October-December 2005 - Volume 19 - Issue 4 - p 195-201
doi: 10.1097/01.wad.0000189035.25277.02
Original Article
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This study aims to investigate the emotional impact of psychiatric symptoms of patients with dementia on their caregiving partners, and to explore if caregiver, patient, and situation factors predict this emotional impact on caregivers. A cross-sectional design was used. Partners of patients with slight to moderately severe dementia who live in the community (n = 85) were interviewed. In a subgroup (n = 58) potential predictors of emotional impact of psychiatric symptoms on caregivers were studied. Agitation, irritability, apathy, and disinhibition produced the highest mean emotional impact scores in caregivers. Besides the neuropsychiatric symptoms themselves, the emotional impact of these symptoms on caregivers was predicted by sense of competence, degree of care needed by the patient, and financial expenditure due to the caregiving situation. The emotional impact of psychiatric symptoms on caregivers is predicted by several patient, caregiver, and situation factors. Interventions aimed at decreasing the experienced burden of caregivers should therefore not only focus on the psychiatric symptoms of the patient, but also on the sense of competence of the caregiver and the financial burden due to the caregiving situation.

From the *Department of Psychiatry, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Alzheimer Center, VU medical center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; †Department of Geriatric Medicine, Medical Center Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Received for publication January 12, 2005; Accepted September 20, 2005.

Reprints: Dr. F.J.M. Meiland, Department of Psychiatry, Vrije Universiteit Medical Center, Valeriusplein 9, 1075 BG Amsterdam, The Netherlands (e-mail: fj.meiland@vumc.nl).

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.