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The Trajectory of Caregiver Burden and Risk Factors in Dementia Progression: A Systematic Review

Background: Caring for patients with dementia at home is often a long-term process, in which the independence of the patient declines, and more responsibility and supervision time is required from the informal caregiver. Objective: In order to minimize and reduce caregiver burden, it is important to explore its trajectory and the accompanying risk factors as dementia progresses; the objective of this systematic review. Methods: PRISMA guidelines were followed in this systematic review. Three databases, PubMed, PsycINFO, and EMbase, were systematically searched in November 2019 using specific keywords. Results: 1,506 hits emerged during the systematic search but only eleven articles actually met the inclusion criteria for this review. The trajectory of caregiver burden is highly variable and depends on multiple factors. Important risk factors included: patients' behavioral and neuropsychiatric symptoms, and their decline in functioning in (I)ADL; the caregiver's age, gender, and physical and mental health; and, within the dyads (patient/caregiver), cohabitation and kinship. Conclusion: There is no one-size-fits-all for predicting how caregiver burden will change over time, but specific factors (like being a spouse and increased behavioral impairment and decline in functional status in the patient) may heighten the risk. Other factors, not yet comprehensively included in the published studies, might also prove to be important risk factors. Future research in the field of reducing caregiver burden is recommended to integrate the patient, caregiver, and context characteristics in the trajectory of caregiver burden, and to assess more clearly the phase of the dementia progression and use of external resources. 

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Ios press
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Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
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