Caregiver Burden

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Caregiver burden is well described in dementia in general. Several studies illustrate, however, that caregiver burden and depression may be amplified when caregivers care for patients who have both dementia and depression (Donaldson, Tarrier, & Burns, 1998; Teri, 1997). However, as it has been shown that even slight improvements in patients' function can enhance quality of life for the caregiver, diagnosis and treatment of depression in dementia can make a clear impact.

Depression in dementia may lead patients more quickly down the road to nursing home placement. A hypothetical sequence such as that depicted in Figure 10.1 may occur in some patients.

Depression in Dementia

Lack of detection Lack of treatment

Decreased function Behavioral problems

Caregiver overwhelmed ■0-

Premature nursing home placement

Figure 10.1 Hypothesized relationship of depression to nursing home placement in some patients with dementia.

Thus, the diagnosis and treatment of depression in dementia is not only worthwhile, it is an area where physicians and health care providers in a variety of disciplines can make a clear difference in quality of life for the patient as well as the caregiver.

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