Behavioral Change in Persons With Dementia: Relationships With Mental and Physical Health of Caregivers
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects that changes in behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia of persons with Alzheimer's disease have on their caregivers' mental health and physical health. The research design was a prospective, longitudinal follow-up study conducted in a major medical center and in participants' homes. Longitudinal analysis linking change in behavior to caregiver outcomes was based on 64 cases. Care recipients were assessed at the time of diagnosis with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). To provide information on the care recipient's behaviors, caregivers participated in an interview with the Modified Neuropsychiatric Inventory at diagnosis and at follow-up. Caregivers also completed a battery of established instruments to measure stress appraisal, mental health, and perceptions of their physical health at follow-up. Results showed that increases in problem behaviors among persons living with dementia, along with residence status, were significant predictors of caregivers' mental health and also their physical health. However, these relationships were mediated through stress appraisal. Variables such as MMSE score of the person with dementia, number of years caregiving, relationship status, and education level were not significant predictors of caregivers' health when behavior change was in the model.
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