Family caregivers of patients with dementia report high levels of psychiatric and physical symptoms. It might be assumed that these symptoms would improve after the patient is moved to a nursing home, but this is not the case, according to a new study in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Researchers collected data on the well-being of 180 caregivers before and after they placed a relative with dementia in long-term care facilities. The researchers found that symptoms of depression and anxiety did not diminish after institutional placement, that the use of anti-anxiety medications increased, and that nearly half the caregivers were at risk for clinical depression following placement of their relative in long-term care facilities.
The study found that the transition to institutional care is particularly difficult for spouses, almost half of whom visit the patient daily and continue to provide help with physical care during their visits.
The researchers conclude that caregivers could greatly benefit from treatment that better prepares them for the placement transition and treats their depression and anxiety following placement.
To read an abstract of the article, "Long-term Care Placement of Dementia Patients and Caregiver Health and Well-being" (JAMA, Vol. 292 No. 8, August 25, 2004), or to purchase the full text, go to: http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/292/8/961