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Caregiver Influences Reports of Dementia in Alzheimer's

Younger, less educated, more burdened caregivers report more symptoms in patients

THURSDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Clinicians should consider the characteristics of caregivers assisting patients with Alzheimer disease since they may influence reports of neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia (NPS), according to a study in the May issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Kaycee M. Sink, M.D., from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the Medicare Alzheimer's Disease Demonstration and Evaluation study to determine if caregiver characteristics -- including age, sex, income, education and other factors -- affect patient NPS, independent of patient characteristics.

The investigators found that caregivers who were younger, less educated, more depressed, more burdened or spent more hours per week giving care reported more NPS in patients. For example, caregivers who were younger than 40 reported a mean of 5.7 NPS per patient compared to caregivers aged 80 years or older, who reported an average of 4.2 NPS for their patients.

"Clinicians should consider the dynamics between patients and caregivers when managing NPS," the authors conclude. "Understanding how different caregiver characteristics influence NPS may help tailor caregiver education and interventions."

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