Inpatient Treatment for Informal Caregivers of Relatives Suffering from Dementia

german translation / full article

Friederike Otto, Sabine de Wall

Keywords: Dementia caregivers inpatient respite care

BackgroundOf the 1.7 million sufferers of dementia in Germany, 60 % are cared for at home by their relatives. In order to maintain their ability to act as caregivers, these relatives are entitled to inpatient preventive or rehabilitative measures as defined by law in §§ 23 and 40 SGB V (Social Code Book V). The aim of this study is to investigate the general well-being of the caregivers, and compare their health before and after hospital admission.MethodsThe study is based on a survey of caregivers who, in 2017, were admitted to hospital for preventive measures one to three weeks, accompanied by their relatives suffering from dementia. The survey took place at the beginning of the stay (T1), at the end of their treatment (T2), and two months later (T3) using standardized test procedures and item analysis.ResultsA total of 131 caregivers participated in T1, 20 were interviewed for T2 and 112 for T3. 76.3 % were female. The average age was 74.5 years (SD = 7.3). The caregivers felt especially burdened by being continuously on call for the dementia patient, the altered personal relationship and the physical strain. At T3, although the general symptoms of the caregivers improved after three weeks of stay, it was noted that the degree of depressive disorder remained almost unchanged or increased in caregivers who only stayed one or two weeks in the hospital. After discharge, caregivers used more outpatient support.ConclusionsCaregivers come as a patient or as a companion of their dementia relatives in the practice of a family physician. If there are identifiable health and psychosocial burdens, family physicians can recommend the early use of a target group-specific inpatient preventive measure in order to preserve the long-term care and quality of life of the caregivers and their relatives suffering from dementia as long as possible.KeywordsDementia; caregivers; inpatient; respite care

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