The European Journal of General Practice vol:15 issue:2 pages:99-106
Background: Increasing numbers of family caregivers are confronted with caring for a demented, community-dwelling relative. Living with, caring for, and supervising a demented older relative places a heavy burden on the involved family members. In particular, primary caregivers report increased strain, feelings of depression, and decreased general wellbeing as a direct consequence of care giving. Since the most common cause of failure of a home-care situation appears to be caregiver burnout, detecting critical, negative changes in the wellbeing of the caregiver is important. Methods: In a nationwide, cross-sectional study by the Belgium Social Security Board, a population of demented older patients and their care-giving relatives was investigated. The care situation and characteristics of demented, older patients and their caregivers were inventoried, and their effects on the wellbeing of caregivers were evaluated. Results: Approximately 30% (n=28) of caregivers of demented, older relatives were depressed. Depression occurred independently of objective care characteristics and the mental and physical state of the demented patient. Rather, it was related to coping mechanisms and to the perceived burden reported by the caregiver. Conclusion: Offering support and counsel to caregivers is an important issue in efficiently maintaining home-care situations.