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Study: Caregiver Traits Could Increase Dementia Symptoms
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 26, 2006

WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA--Researchers have found that "certain styles of caregiving" might cause patients with dementia to experience the kinds of symptoms that typically force people out of their own homes and into nursing homes.

The study, released Wednesday by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, involved almost 6,000 patients with dementia living in the community with family or paid caregivers. The researchers found that some symptoms -- such as restlessness, hallucinations, paranoia, combativeness, destruction of property, and wandering -- increased in patients that had caregivers who were young, poorly educated, over-worked or depressed.

"These results are consistent with the idea that caregiver characteristics, including their emotional state, could contribute to neuropsychiatric (behavioral) symptoms in dementia patients," said lead author Kaycee Sink, M.D., in a press statement. "For example, it is possible that caregivers who are burdened may be irritable and demonstrate less patience, which could provoke the symptoms."

The researchers found that younger caregivers reported significantly more behavior problems than older caregivers did, suggesting that caregiver age alone may affect a patient's symptoms.

"We are not trying to blame caregivers, but to better understand the complex puzzle," Sink said. "If we focus only on the patient, we're not going to solve the problem. We need to develop better, non-drug treatments to handle these behaviors, and more tailored caregiver education may be one answer."

"Characteristics of Caregivers May Increase Symptoms in Dementia Patients" (Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center)


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