BACKGROUND: Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia are very common. They represent a main cause of burden and distress in caregivers and can lead to early institutionalization of patients. We aimed to find the most specific behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia that can strongly affect the caregivers' burden.
METHODS: Twenty-seven patients and their caregivers were enrolled in this study. All of the patients were affected by Alzheimer's, vascular, or frontotemporal dementia and were evaluated with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and Mini-Mental State Examination. Caregivers were administered the Caregiver Burden Inventory.
RESULTS: Apathy, depression, anxiety, and agitation were the most common symptoms and were found in up to 90% of the patients. We detected strong correlations between patient neuropsychiatric symptoms, (i.e. irritability, hallucinations, aberrant motor behavioural, depression, and agitation) and Caregiver Burden Inventory scores. Multiple regression analysis found hallucinations, irritability, and depression to be significant predictors of caregiver burden. Moreover, the Neuropsychiatric Inventory score was more closely related to caregiver burden than the Mini-Mental State Examination score.
CONCLUSION: Our results revealed that demented patients' behavioural problems are related to the level of caregiver burden and distress. Further investigations are needed to differentiate the present findings among dementia subtypes and to better evaluate the effect of caregivers' personal characteristics on their own burden.
- Journal Article