Objective: As their differential needs are unknown and to inform service planning, this study (a) examined experiences of caring for adults with acquired brain injury (ABI) and (b) compared these with carers of adults with dementia.
Design: Cross-sectional postal survey. ABI carer experiences were compared with those of a previously studied group of dementia carers using equivalent instruments.
Methods: Family carers (n = 222) of adults with ABI: TBI (49%), strokes (26%), brain infections (18%) and other (7%) completed validated questionnaires assessing physical dependency and psychological problems of those cared for and carers’ own perceived burden, quality-of-life and mental health.
Results: Carer burden, quality-of-life and mental health were worse for ABI carers, but were not predicted by gender, relationship, injury type, physical dependency or cognitive problems in either ABI or dementia carers. Behavioural problems of those cared for varied between the two groups and affected carers differently. Aggressive problems significantly predicted greater burden, poor quality-of-life and mental health in ABI carers, whereas passivity/low mood significantly predicted greater burden and worse quality-of-life in dementia carers.
Conclusions: This study revealed different experiences of caring for younger adults with ABI vs. older adults with dementia, thereby supporting targeted development of services to sustain families affected by these conditions.