Depressive symptoms of Alzheimer caregivers are mainly due to personal rather than patient factors

Orazio Zanetti, Giovanni B. Frisoni, Angelo Bianchetti, Giancarlo Tamanza, Vittorio Cigoli, Marco Trabucchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. To investigate the predictors of caregiver's depressive symptoms in a sample of community-dwelling Alzheimer's patients. Design. A cross-sectional study was conducted in an Alzheimer's unit specifically devoted to the care of demented patients in Brescia Province (Italy). One hundred and three dyads were consecutively recruited between July 1994 and July 1995. Caregivers were sons/daughters (65%) or husbands/wives; mean age was 54.6 ± 13.2. Alzheimer's patients Mini Mental State Examination score was 11.3 ± 8.3; patients were equally distributed among disease severity levels. The following variables have been collected: (a) background and context variables (caregiver's age, gender, marital status, education, relationship and cohabitation with the patient, employment status, satisfaction with household income); (b) caregiver's personal resources (health, social relationships and social interactions, formal supports use, and self-rated adequacy of performance as caregivers); (c) objective burden indicators (number of daily hours for assistance and vigilance); (d) primary stressors (patient's age and gender, cognitive status, functional status, frequency of behavioural disturbances). Caregiver's depressive symptoms represented the main outcome measure. Results. Being husband or wife, low self-rated health and caregiving competence, high numbers of hours for assistance and patient's behavioural disturbances and younger age were associated with caregiver's depressive symptoms. With multivariate analysis only relationship to the patient, caregiver's health and competence were independent predictors of caregiver's depressive symptoms. Conclusion. Factors related to the caregiver-relationship, health and competence-rather than to the patient constitute the main risk factors for caregiver's depressive symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-367
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998


  • Alzheimer's dementia
  • Caregiver
  • Depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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