Background: Although caring for individuals with dementia is known to result in increased burden and depression among caregivers, little research has investigated caregiver's anxiety or concern about eventually developing dementia themselves (i.e. dementia anxiety). Existing research reports mixed findings regarding variables (e.g. relationship to care recipient, sex, education) that predict dementia anxiety among caregivers and non-caregivers. Potential relationships among burden, depression and dementia anxiety have not been extensively examined. The present study explored caregiver and care recipient factors as predictors of dementia anxiety in older adult caregivers.
Methods: A sample of 116 older adult caregivers answered demographic/background questions and completed a series of self-report measures assessing dementia anxiety, caregiver burden, depression, and the physical disability of the care recipient.
Results: The majority of caregivers were female, Caucasian, and reported caring for a spouse. Analyses revealed that background variables were generally not related to dementia anxiety, while depression and caregiver burden were significantly associated. Using linear regression analysis, it was found that a diagnosis of dementia in the care recipient and caregiver depression were both significant predictors of caregiver dementia anxiety.
Conclusion: Health care providers should be aware that dementia anxiety is associated with caring for individuals with dementia as well as with depression. Dementia anxiety may place additional strain on caregivers of individuals who have dementia and are suffering from depression and thus should be the focus of future research.