Institutionalization of demented elderly: the role of caregiver characteristics

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2001 Mar;16(3):273-80. doi: 10.1002/gps.331.


Background: Three sets of caregiver characteristics were examined with respect to their explanatory value for institutionalization of demented elderly people: commitment to the caregiving relationship, psychological distress, and personality traits.

Method: Logistic regression was used to test whether these caregiver characteristics were risk factors for institutionalization of demented elderly people in the first year after baseline measurement (N = 138). Control variables were caregivers' sex, age and education.

Results: The results showed the importance of commitment to the caregiving relationship, indicated by type of relationship between caregiver and care recipient. Demented people cared for by non-spouses were more likely to be institutionalized as compared to those cared for by spouses. For non-spouse care-givers, being more extravert increased the likelihood of institutional placement, whereas for spouse caregivers perceiving more pressure from informal increased this likelihood.

Conclusions: These findings are in agreement with the assumption that non-spouses are less strongly committed to the caregiving relationship as compared to spouses. Results were independent from elders' impairment in cognitive functioning and (Instrumental) Activities of Daily Living. Caregivers' psychopathology was not a risk factor at all, which is a matter of concern, regarding the consequences for caregivers' own health and health-care utilization, but also for their treatment of the demented elder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Decision Making*
  • Dementia*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Institutionalization*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Personality
  • Risk Factors
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological