Study: In-Home Worker Traits Could Increase Dementia Symptoms

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

WINSTON-SALEM, NC--Researchers have found that "certain styles of caregiving" might cause those with dementia to experience the kinds of symptoms that typically force people out of their own homes and into nursing homes.

The study, released last week by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, involved almost 6,000 people with dementia living in the community with family or paid in-home workers. The researchers found that some symptoms -- such as restlessness, hallucinations, paranoia, combativeness, destruction of property, and wandering -- increased in patients that had caregivers who were young, poorly educated, over-worked or depressed.

"These results are consistent with the idea that caregiver characteristics, including their emotional state, could contribute to neuropsychiatric (behavioral) symptoms in dementia patients," said lead author Kaycee Sink, M.D., in a press statement. "For example, it is possible that caregivers who are burdened may be irritable and demonstrate less patience, which could provoke the symptoms."

The researchers found that younger caregivers reported significantly more behavior problems than older caregivers did, suggesting that caregiver age alone may affect a patient's symptoms.

"We are not trying to blame caregivers, but to better understand the complex puzzle," Sink said. "If we focus only on the patient, we're not going to solve the problem. We need to develop better, non-drug treatments to handle these behaviors, and more tailored caregiver education may be one answer."

"Characteristics of Caregivers May Increase Symptoms in Dementia Patients" (Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center)

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May 31, 2006 - InclusionDailyNews Department | Email this story


Comments (newest comments at bottom)

It's also possible that "caregivers" who feel resentful or consider themselves "burdened", in addition to providing detrimental "care" that provokes restlessness and paranoia (natural responses to fear, uncertainty, and loss of control of one's situation), are more likely to report behaviors that they consider undesirable in the person with dementia. Pardon all the quotation marks, of course.

Posted by: Evonne on May 31, 2006 02:05 PM

Or, it might not even be "paranoia", but justified fear.

Posted by: A M Baggs on May 31, 2006 09:11 PM

Good point.

Posted by: Evonne on June 1, 2006 12:12 PM

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