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Dementia patients feel it if carer is stressed

By Hayley Jarvis, 20 May 2019

If their carer is stressed, lacks support or doesn’t feel up to the job, it has a negative knock on effect on the person with dementia they’re looking after.

That’s the finding from new research into how carers’ experiences can influence wellbeing, positivity and quality of life for people living with dementia.

The study, released to mark the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week 2019, is published in the journal Aging and Mental Health.

“Our study shows the wellbeing of the person cared for and carer are linked,” said Brunel University London’s Professor Christina Victor. “This suggests we should provide more support for carers and there is very little help available for them.”

“Supporting carers can start a positive chain of events. If we supported carers to be more competent, reduced the stress they experience and increased their flexibility in their role, we would enhance their wellbeing and that of the person with dementia.”

The research comes from the Improving the experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life (IDEAL) programme, which Brunel is part of. Using data from 1,283 people with dementia and their carers, the team wanted to find out whether carers’ experiences of caring were related to how people with dementia rate their quality of life, wellbeing and life satisfaction.

“We all know that the way we feel can sometimes affect the wellbeing of those around us,” said Fiona Carragher, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society. “But this is the first time researchers have conclusively found that when a carer feels stressed and out of their depth, this can negatively impact the welfare of the person with dementia they are caring for.

“We’re investing in improving the quality of people with dementia’s life, as they have the right to good care and carers deserve to feel valued and supported. Support services must be sure to prioritise carer wellbeing in order to retain the life-changing support they provide and deliver the level of care that people with dementia are entitled to.”

Led by Dr Catherine Quinn at the University of Bradford, the team worked with REACH: The Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health, which Brunel’s Department of Clinical Sciences is also a part of, along with the University of Exeter and King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.