Reactions to caregiving of frail, older persons predict depression

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Aggar, C, Ronaldson, S & Cameron, ID 2010, 'Reactions to caregiving of frail, older persons predict depression', International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 409-415.

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Reactions to caregiving and depression affect a carer's ability to continue in their caring role. This paper examines the relationship between reactions to caregiving and depression in carers of frail, older people and is a cross-sectional study of carers of community-living people (70 years), identified as frail, who completed a postal questionnaire. Reactions to caregiving were evaluated using the Caregiver Reaction Assessment. Anxiety and depression symptoms were measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Borderline depressive symptoms were reported in 15% of carers, and 10% had abnormal depressive symptoms. Anxiety symptoms in the carers were slightly higher at 24% and 12%, respectively. Multiple regression indicated that the impact on carers' daily schedules (β = 1.419, P = 0.001; β = 1.162, P = 0.025) and their health (β = 1.509, P = 0.007; β = 1.850, P = 0.006) as a result of caregiving explained 49% of the variance in carers' depressive symptoms (P < 0.001) and 42% of the variance in their anxiety symptoms (P < 0.001). Specific reactions to caregiving are important predictors of depressive and anxiety symptoms in carers of frail, older people. Regular carer support services and targeted health-care initiatives could alleviate or lessen negative reactions associated with caregiving, such as depression.

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