Neuropsychiatric Symptoms, Caregiver Burden and Distress in Behavioral-Variant Frontotemporal Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

Thais Bento Lima-Silva, Valéria Santoro Bahia, Viviane Amaral Carvalho, Henrique Cerqueira Guimarães, Paulo Caramelli, Márcio Luiz Balthazar, Benito Damasceno, Cássio Machado Bottino, Sônia Maria Brucki, Ricardo Nitrini, Mônica Sanches Yassuda
Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 2015, 40 (5-6): 268-75

BACKGROUND/AIMS: We aimed to compare caregiver burden and distress in behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) and to investigate which factors contribute to caregivers' burden and distress.

METHODS: Fifty patients and their caregivers were invited to participate. Among the patients, 20 had a diagnosis of bvFTD and 30 had AD. Caregivers and patients were statistically equivalent for age, sex, education and dementia severity according to Clinical Dementia Rating. The protocol included the Short Zarit Burden Inventory, the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI), Disability Assessment for Dementia (DAD), the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD), Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination-Revised, the Executive Interview with 25 Items, Direct Assessment of Functional Status and the Geriatric Anxiety Inventory (GAI).

RESULTS: In the NPI, caregivers of bvFTD patients reported a higher presence and severity of neuropsychiatric symptoms and caregiver distress compared to caregivers of AD patients. There was no significant difference in the perceived burden. In bvFTD, DAD and GAI scores were significantly correlated with burden, whereas in AD, burden was correlated with CSDD and NPI scores. Psychiatric symptoms were associated with distress in both groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Caregivers of bvFTD patients experienced higher levels of distress than caregivers of AD patients. Patients' functional limitations were associated with burden of caregivers of bvFTD patients, whereas neuropsychiatric symptoms were associated with caregiver strain in both groups.

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