Perceived Caregiver Stress in Cognitive Impairment

 

Cross sectional studies have reported a tremendous amount of stress in individuals who are caring for a patient who has Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of mild cognitive impairment. The researchers for this study investigated whether they could measure the perceived stress in caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment.1

 

The perceived stress of caregivers who care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease was significantly higher than the perceived stress of caregivers who care for patients with mild cognitive impairment. The researchers concluded that patients with mild cognitive impairment are likely not as dependent on caregivers as are the patients with Alzheimer’s disease. However, caregivers of patients with mild cognitive impairment perceived significantly more stress when compared to the caregivers of other chronic illnesses. The researchers concluded that this may suggest that patients with mild cognitive impairment have difficulties in activities that involve caregiver involvement, such as self-care and remembering and taking medications which places a burden on the caregiver.

 

The caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment were recruited at the Outpatient Department of the Neurology Department (Memory Clinic), and controls selected randomly from the Department of Psychiatry and Medicine of a tertiary care hospital in Northern India. The controls included caregivers of patients with chronic medical and psychiatric disorders. The caregivers of 31 patients at the Memory Clinic, 24 with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and 7 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) were interviewed. Also, the caregivers of the 30 controls (osteoporosis=12, diabetes and hypertension=6, psychiatric disorders=10) were interviewed. The inclusion criteria for controls included caregivers of patients with a chronic medical or psychiatric disorder for at least the past year, along with the absence of any other co-morbid medical condition and cognitive impairment. The control caregivers also had to stay in contact with the patient for most of the period of illness and be willing to give informed consent. The caregivers were interviewed using the Perceived Stress Scale and the patients were assessed using the Blessed Activity of Daily Living, Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Clinical Dementia Rating scale.

The researchers compared the perceived stress of the caregivers amongst both groups and correlated it with the severity of illness and activities of daily living of the patients. The Perceived Stress Scale score was 23.29 + 7.17 in caregivers of AD/MCI patients and 7.5 + 3.12 in controls. The Activity of Daily Living score was 7.97 + 5.53 in caregivers of AD/MCI patients and 0.00 in controls. There was a statistically significant difference between the Perceived Stress Scale and Activity of Daily Living scores between those with Alzheimer’s disease and the controls. The caregivers of patients with mild cognitive impairment had lower Perceive Stress Scale scores compared to the caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but significantly higher scores compared to caregivers of other chronic illnesses. The Perceived Stress Scale score was significantly higher for caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease when compared to scores of caregivers of patients with other chronic illnesses.

Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that the caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment have a higher perceived stress value compared to caregivers of patients with other chronic illnesses.

  1. Anand KS, Dhikay V, Sachdeva A, and Mishra P. Perceived caregiver stress in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment: A case control study. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. 2016;19(1): 58-62.

 

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