The Psychological Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic and Lockdown on Caregivers of People With Dementia

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2021 Jan;29(1):27-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2020.10.009. Epub 2020 Oct 22.


Background: Caregivers of people with dementia (pwD) are at risk of depression, anxiety, and burden. COVID-19 pandemic and government-imposed lockdown as a preventive measure might increase psychological symptoms in caregivers. The authors performed a study to measure the change of psychological symptoms during quarantine or self-isolation for COVID-19 in a sample of Italian caregivers of pwD, and to investigate if the resilience is associated with psychological changes in the sample.

Methods: Eighty-four caregivers of pwD completed an online survey including questionnaires assessing depressive symptomatology and anxiety before and during the lockdown, caregiver burden and levels of resilience.

Results: The multivariate analysis of variance revealed an effect of time (before and during the lockdown) in the whole group on depression scores; a significant interaction between time and resilience was found on anxiety scores, revealing that caregivers with high resilience showed a more significant increase of anxiety levels during lockdown than caregivers with low resilience. Moreover, the regression analysis revealed that caregiver burden was associated negatively with resilience scores, and positively with higher functional dependence.

Conclusion: COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown produced psychological consequences in caregivers of pwD, with an increase of levels of depression. Moreover, high resilience had a negative effect on anxiety levels and no effect on depressive symptomatology during the lockdown; moreover, it was associated with lower levels of caregiver burden. All caregivers, even those with high resilience levels, should be addressed to psychological interventions to reduce levels of depression, anxiety and caregiver burden.

Keywords: COVID-19; Caregiver; anxiety; burden; dementia; depression; resilience.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Distancing*
  • Quarantine / psychology*
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Time Factors