Individuals suffering from dementia are affected by a progressive and significant global deterioration and, consequently, might require longer assistance in the advanced stage of the illness. The illness is a great burden on the person who takes care of a patient, namely, the caregiver. This study aims to analyze the presence and relationship of specific sociodemographic variables, subjective burden, and depressive symptoms among caregivers of patients with dementia.
The participants of this study were caregivers at a health care unit for the elderly in southern Italy. An evaluation of the burden of patients with dementia on caregivers was carried out using the Caregiver Burden Inventory (CBI) and depressive symptoms using the Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS).
A total of 150 caregivers completed the study. In all, 83 (55%) caregivers showed a total CBI score ≥36, of whom 70% showed pathological depression scores in SDS. According to SDS, 28 (19%) caregivers showed a total CBI score from 24 to 36, of whom 32% were depressed. Depression was present in 5% of the caregivers whose CBI score was <24. Hence, an association between burden and depression was evident (χ (2)=47.446, P<0.001). A multiple linear regression analysis showed that depression (adjusted R (2)=0.622, F=50.123, P<0.001) was associated with higher physical (β=0.666, P=0.001) and developmental (β=0.712, P<0.001) burdens, lower socioeconomic status (β=-4.282; P=0.002), higher level of urbanicity (β=3.070; P=0.012), and advanced age (β=2.132; P=0.08).
Our study confirms the presence of depressive symptoms in a large number of caregivers with high burden. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates that depressive symptoms are mainly associated with sociodemographic variables and, to a lesser degree, physical and developmental burdens.