Caregiver burden and prevalence of depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances in Alzheimer's disease caregivers in China

Shuai Liu, Chonghui Li, Zhihong Shi, Xiaodan Wang, Yuying Zhou, Shuling Liu, Jing Liu, Tao Yu, Yong Ji
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2017, 26 (9-10): 1291-1300

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To evaluate caregiver burden and factors that influence this burden among caregivers and patients with Alzheimer's disease in China.

BACKGROUND: Long-term care can reduce the quality of life for caregivers and result in both mental and physical exhaustion. However, little is known about caregiver burden and associated factors in China.

DESIGN: The study had a quantitative cross-sectional design.

METHODS: A total of 309 caregivers and their patients were included in the study. The patients' cognitive, psychological and functional status and their caregivers' burden, sleep quality and mental state were evaluated. Descriptive analyses, single-factor regression and stepwise factor regression were used to determine the effects of various factors on caregiver burden.

RESULTS: Older females and spouses still play an important role in providing family care for those with dementia. Most of the caregivers were the sole full-time caregiver and had little time for themselves. Sleepiness was a common physical problem for caregivers, and some of them had moderate to severe depression and anxiety. A lower functional status of the patient was associated with higher caregiver burden. Poorer physical status compared with before caregiving began, lower life satisfaction, and higher degrees of depression and anxiety were associated with higher caregiver burden.

CONCLUSION: Depression, anxiety and sleep problems are the main challenges that are faced by family caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Caregivers' functional status, lower life satisfaction, depression and anxiety influenced caregiver burden. Caregiver burden was related to the severity of the patient's dementia and the personal factors of the caregivers.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: To provide information about caregivers' current status while caring for patients with Alzheimer's disease and to understand caregiver burden and its related factors. Professionals who work with Alzheimer's disease should pay more attention to caregiver burden, especially those with mental and physical problems.

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