Do informal caregivers of people with dementia mirror the cognitive deficits of their demented patients? A pilot study

L.H. Jütten, R.E. Mark, M.M. Sitskoorn

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Recent research suggests that informal caregivers of people with dementia (ICs) experience more cognitive deficits than noncaregivers. The reason for this is not yet clear.
to test the hypothesis that ICs ‘mirror' the cognitive deficits of the demented people they care for. Participants and methods: 105 adult ICs were asked to complete three neuropsychological tests: letter fluency, category fluency, and the logical memory test from the WMS-III. The ICs were grouped
according to the diagnosis of their demented patients. One-sample ttests were conducted to investigate if the standardized mean scores (t-scores) of the ICs were different from normative data. A Bonferroni correction was used to correct for multiple comparisons.
82 ICs cared for people with Alzheimer's dementia and 23 ICs cared for people with vascular dementia. Mean letter fluency score of the ICs of people with Alzheimer's dementia was significantly lower than the normative mean letter fluency score, p = .002. The other tests yielded no significant results.
our data shows that ICs of Alzheimer patients have cognitive deficits on the letter fluency test. This test primarily measures executive functioning and it has been found to be sensitive to mild cognitive impairment in recent research. Our data tentatively suggests that ICs who care for Alzheimer patients also show signs of cognitive impairment but that it is too early to tell if this is cause for concern or not.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2017


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