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As a degenerative disease, the progression of dementia needs continued care provision and poses both psychological and financial burden for family caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD). This study seeks to compare predictors of care costs and caregiver burden, and to identify modifiable factors that could alleviate the burden faced by dementia caregivers.
This study interviewed 231 PWD–caregiver dyads in a dementia clinic at a teaching hospital in southern Taiwan in 2013. A follow-up study was conducted a year later, and 167 dyads completed the second interview. Data collected included PWD characteristics, caregiver characteristics, relationship to PWD, and social support to caregivers. Caregiver burden was measured with the Zarit Burden Interview instrument. The association between each predictor variable and cost of care and caregiver burden scores was examined using linear mixed models.
Predictors of care costs were found to be different from predictors of caregiver burden: functional declines measured by Katz’s activities of daily living (ADL) scale were associated with total cost as compared to behavioral disturbance measured by Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI), which showed no impact on care costs. However, NPI was a significant predictor of caregiver burden. Caregivers who were better-off financially also reported significantly lower caregiver burden.
Since predictors of care costs were different from the predictors of caregiver burden, providing training to caregivers in addressing PWD’s behavioral disturbance and proving financial assistance to low income caregivers could be effective in reducing caregiver burden.
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