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Does Caregiving Strain Increase as Patients With and Without Dementia Approach the End of Life?

Context. Family caregivers play critical and demanding roles in the care of persons with dementia through the end of life. Objectives. The objective of this study was to determine whether caregiving strain increases for dementia caregivers as older adults approach the end of life, and secondarily, whether this association differs for nondementia caregivers. Methods. Participants included a nationally representative sample of community-living older adults receiving help with self-care or indoor mobility and their primary caregivers (3422 dyads). Older adults' death within 12 months of survey was assessed from linked Medicare enrollment files. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the association between dementia and end-of-life status and a composite measure of caregiving strain (range: 0–9, using a cut point of 5 to define “high” strain) after comprehensively adjusting for other older adult and caregiver factors. Results. The prevalence of dementia in our sample was 30.1%; 13.2% of the sample died within 12 months. The proportion of caregivers who experienced high strain ranged from a low of 13.5% among nondementia, non–end-of-life caregivers to a high of 35.0% among dementia caregivers of older adults who died within 12 months. Among dementia caregivers, the odds of high caregiving strain were nearly twice as high (aOR = 1.94, 95% CI: 1.10–3.45) for those who were assisting older adults nearing end of life. Among nondementia caregivers, providing care near the end of life was not associated with high strain. Conclusion. Increased strain toward the end of life is particularly notable for dementia caregivers. Interventions are needed to address the needs of this population.

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Journal article
Elsevier Ltd
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Journal of Pain and Symptom Management
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