The heterogeneous course of depressive symptoms for the dementia caregiver

Katherine Ornstein, Joseph Gaugler, Laura Zahodne, Yaakov Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Caregiving may be burdensome to caregivers, negatively affecting health and impacting decisions to institutionalize patients. It is unclear how caregiver depression changes over longer periods or whether heterogeneous trajectories for caregivers are apparent. The goals of this article are to characterize the course of depressive symptoms among caregivers over time and to examine the impact of baseline patient and caregiver characteristics on these trajectories. Patients with dementia and their caregivers were followed every 6 months for up to 6 years or until death (n = 133). Growth mixture modeling identified trajectories of caregiver depression over time. Most caregivers had stable trajectories of symptoms, with a smaller subset showing evidence of wear-and-tear. Patient clinical characteristics had no impact on symptom course for caregivers. Future work should utilize a longitudinal perspective and consider that there may be heterogeneous trajectories for caregivers. Those caregivers who follow a wear-and-tear trajectory may require targeted interventions to improve outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Volume78
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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