The psychological and physical health of family members caring for an elderly person with dementia

J Clin Epidemiol. 1992 Jan;45(1):61-70. doi: 10.1016/0895-4356(92)90189-t.


Most elderly persons with dementia are cared for at home, usually by the spouse or an adult child. The objective of the present study was to determine whether there is an excess of psychological and physical health problems among family caregivers (CGs) of elderly persons with dementia. Data were obtained by interview from close family members of dementia patients (CGs), and from a comparison group made up of close family members of patients undergoing cataract surgery (non-caregivers, NCGs). CGs had significantly higher levels of depression and physical symptoms than NCGs. The association between caregiving and the health variables was stronger among subjects who were the patient's spouse than among those who were the patient's child. Furthermore, greater behavioral disturbance in the demented patient was associated with higher levels of morbidity in the CG. The results suggest that CGs might benefit from careful monitoring of their health status, and from greater access to specialized support services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status*
  • Home Nursing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires