Family caregivers of persons with dementia. Experiences of burden, satisfaction and psychosocial intervention

University dissertation from Department of Health Sciences, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Lund University

Abstract: One of the most common diseases occurring in old age groups is dementia. Caring for a relative with dementia poses many challenges for family caregivers and they bear the main responsibility for the persons with dementia living at home. The overall aim of this thesis, which consists of five community-based studies, was to explore experiences of burden and satisfaction among family caregivers (FC) looking after persons with dementia. Implicit in this aim was the assumption that the result of this research would support development of education programs for caregivers of individuals with dementia in the community. FC of persons with dementia living in either group living care or nursing home still expressed feelings of burden several years after relocation. The caregivers also reported insufficient information and support, and the grown-up children who are low-income earners are those who are affected most ? especially with regard to strain and disappointment. FC with a higher sense of coherence and fewer symptoms reported significantly less burden. Sense of coherence seems to modify the extent of burden reported among FCs, irrespectively of their health. Stressors as measured on the caregiver burden scale and satisfaction can co-exist and allow assessment of different aspects of the caregiver's situation. Psychosocial intervention with a clearly defined aim, which combines giving information and holding conversation groups, can have significant positive effects on the burden experienced by FCs of persons with dementia. The best effect of intervention on caregivers in a controlled study design was found early in the progression of dementia. These findings emphasize the importance of identifying FCs early in the caring process, to maximize their well-being.

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