Objectives: People caring for family members who have dementia often experience considerable levels of anxiety and depression. However, relatively little is known about the awareness of carer distress among people with dementia. This study investigated whether or not people with dementia are aware of the level of distress experienced by their carers.
Method: Two groups of participants were studied, a dementia group and a control group of people with arthritis. Each group consisted of pairs of people, the person with dementia or arthritis and the family member who acted as their main carer; 40 pairs participated in total. For both groups, the carer's psychological health was rated by the carer themselves and by the care-recipient, using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. For the dementia group, memory functioning in the person with dementia was rated by the care-recipient themselves and by the carer, using the Memory Function Scale. The ratings made by the carer and care-recipient were compared to give an indication of the level of awareness in the care-recipient.
Results: People with dementia have a significant level of awareness of their carers' state of psychological health. Their awareness follows the same pattern as that shown by a control group of people with arthritis. The level of awareness of carer psychological health shown by the dementia group was not related to their level of awareness of their own memory difficulties.
Conclusion: The clinical implications of awareness of carer distress in people with dementia should be considered. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.