Mental Health and Morbidity of Caregivers and Co-Residents of individuals with Dementia: A Quasi-Experimental Design

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Objectives: To determine if providing informal care to a co-resident with dementia symptoms places an additional risk on the likelihood of poor mental health or mortality compared to co-resident non-caregivers.
Design: A quasi-experimental design of caregiving and non-caregiving co-residents of individuals with dementia symptoms, providing a natural comparator for the additive effects of caregiving on top of living with an individual with dementia symptoms. 
Methods: Census records, providing information on household structure, intensity of caregiving, presence of dementia symptoms and self-reported mental health, were linked to mortality records over the following 33 months. Multi-level regression models were constructed to determine the risk of poor mental health and death in co-resident caregivers of individuals with dementia symptoms compared to co-resident non-caregivers, adjusting for the clustering of individuals within households.
Results: The cohort consisted of 10,982 co-residents (55.1% caregivers), with 12.1% of non-caregivers reporting poor mental health compared to 8.4% of intense caregivers (>20 hours of care per week). During follow-up the cohort experienced 560 deaths (245 to caregivers). Overall, caregiving co-residents were at no greater risk of poor mental health but had lower mortality risk than non-caregiving co-residents (ORadj=0.93, 95% CI 0.79, 1.10 and ORadj=0.67, 95% CI 0.56, 0.81, respectively); this lower mortality risk was also seen amongst the most intensive caregivers (ORadj=0.65, 95% CI 0.53, 0.79).
Conclusion: Caregiving poses no additional risk to mental health over and above the risk associated with merely living with someone with dementia, and is associated with a lower mortality risk compared to non-caregiving co-residents.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Early online date05 Sep 2016
Publication statusEarly online date - 05 Sep 2016


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