A new study reveals that 60 percent of family members who were taking care of loved ones with Alzheimer's disease exhibited symptoms of depression that worsened over time.
Researchers tracked symptoms of depression in family caregivers from the time when their loved ones were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease until five years later. A third of the caregivers – usually women caring for their spouse – showed increased symptoms of depression over the course of the study.
Interestingly, the trajectory or severity of their loved one's Alzheimer's disease did not appear to be related to the seriousness of caregivers' depressive symptoms.
In addition to recommending a need for additional research on why some caregivers show increased symptoms of depression, the leaders of the study emphasize that clinicians should be taking their patients' caregiver into account when planning support services.
“Assessment and continuous monitoring of family caregivers' health and well-being should be included in the treatment of memory disorders,” said Tarja Välimäki, the study's lead author, in a news release.
If you are a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, be sure to check out the assortment of online resources, activities, and technological devices available to support you.
Access the study in the online September 2022 issue of Clinical Gerontologist.