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Depression Worsens Over Time in Caregivers of Partners With Dementia

Symptoms sustained regardless of whether the diagnosis was less than or more than two years before

MONDAY, Sept. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Depressive symptoms worsen over time for older caregivers of partners or spouses who are newly diagnosed with dementia, according to a study published online Aug. 29 in the Journal of Applied Gerontology.

Melissa L. Harris, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues compared depressive symptoms among 16,650 older individuals with partners without Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRDs) and those recently (within two years) or less recently diagnosed with ADRDs (two or more years).

The researchers found that the mean number of reported depressive symptoms was 1.2. When controlling for lagged sociodemographic and health characteristics, having a partner with any ADRD was associated with a 30 percent increase in depressive symptoms compared with respondents with partners with no ADRD. A longer-term partner diagnosis was associated with a 33 percent increase, while a more recent diagnosis was associated with a 27 percent increase.

“Clinically meaningful and longitudinally worsening depressive symptoms amplify the need to prioritize partner health and family-centered care following an ADRD diagnosis,” the authors write.

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