The dependence scale has been designed to be sensitive to the overall care needs of the patient and is considered distinct from standard measures of functional ability in this regard. Little is known regarding the relationship between patient dependence and caregiver burden. We recruited 100 patients with Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment and their caregivers through a memory clinic. Patient function, dependence, hours of care, cognition, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and caregiver burden were assessed. Dependence was significantly correlated with caregiver burden. Functional decline and dependence were most predictive of caregiver burden in patients with mild impairment while behavioral symptoms were most predictive in patients with moderate to severe disease. The dependence scale demonstrated good utility as a predictor of caregiver burden. Interventions to reduce caregiver burden should address patient dependence, functional decline, and behavioral symptoms while successful management of the latter becomes more critical with disease progression.