Background: Alzheimer's disease presents a social and public health problem affecting millions of Italians. Those affected receive home care from caregivers, subjected to risk of stress. The present investigation focuses on stress, anxiety and depression in caregivers.
Methods: Data on 200 caregivers and their patients were collected using a specific form to assess cognitive, behavioural, functional patient (MMSE, and ADL-IAD) and caregiver stress (CBI). The relationship between stress, depression and disease has been assessed by means of a linear regression, logistic analysis which reveals the relationship between anxiety, stress and depression and cognitive problems, age, the patient's income.
Results: The caregivers are usually female (64%), mean age of 56.1 years, daughters (70.5%), pensioners and housewives (30%), who care for the sick at home (79%). Of these, 53% had little time for themselves, 55% observed worsening of health, 56% are tired, 51% are not getting enough sleep. Overall, 55% have problems with the patient's family and/or their own family, 57% at work. Furthermore, 29% feel they are failing to cope with the situation as they wish to move away from home. The increase in the degree of anxiety and depression is directly proportional to the severity of the illness, affecting the patient (r = 0.3 stress and depression r = 0.4 related to CBI score). The memory disorders (OR = 8.4), engine problems (OR = 2.6), perception disorders (OR = 1.9) sick of the patient with Alzheimer's disease are predictive of caregiver stress, depression is associated with the presence of other disorders, mainly behavioural (OR = 5.2), low income (OR = 3.4), patients < 65 years of age (OR = 2.9).
Conclusion: The quality of life of caregivers is correlated with the severity of behavioural disorders and duration of the Alzheimer's disease. The severity of the disease plays an important role in reorganization of the family environment in families caring for patients not institutionalised. It is important to promote measures to soften the impact that the patient has on the caregiver, and that, at the same time, improves the quality of life of the patient.