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One in Three Family Caregivers for Alzheimer Disease Patients Has Depression

Authors say the health of family caregivers should be monitored in clinical practices

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) — One-third of family caregivers for individuals with Alzheimer disease (AD) experience increasing depressive symptoms over five years, according to a study published online Sept. 4 in Clinical Gerontologist.

Tarja Välimäki, Ph.D., from the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, and colleagues identified trajectories of depressive symptoms in family caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer disease. The analysis included 226 family caregivers and individuals with Alzheimer disease who were followed for five years.

The researchers identified three trajectories of family caregiver depressive symptoms throughout follow-up: declining (7.5 percent of family caregivers); minor (59.7 percent of family caregivers); and increased (32.7 percent of family caregivers). Across trajectories, there were differences observed in demographic variables, family caregiver distress, and individuals with Alzheimer disease neuropsychiatric symptoms.

“According to this study, about one-third of family caregivers experience persistent depression when giving family care. It seems that the severity or progression of the memory disorder does not explain family caregivers’ symptoms, but they are rather related to individual backgrounds,” Välimäki said in a statement. “It is important to consider the health of the family caregiver already when looking into the situation of the individual with Alzheimer disease. Assessment and continuous monitoring of family caregivers’ health and well-being should be included in the treatment of memory disorders.”

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