Caregiver burden—the stress associated with caring for a loved one with chronic illness—is rated as high or very high by about two-thirds of Alzheimer's caregivers. At Wake Forest School of Medicine, both patients with memory loss or cognitive impairment and caregivers are evaluated at a geriatrician-led co-located Memory Assessment Clinic (MAC). In a sample of 100 MAC-evaluated patient-caregiver dyads this study assessed both patient severity of Alzheimer's disease or other dementia, self-reported behavioral disturbances, degree of functional independence in general activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), and caregiver stress as measured by the Caregiver Burden Scale (CBS). Several patient factors were found to be related to high caregiver stress (CBS score > 25), in particular moderate-severe dementia; inability to perform most IADLs, especially managing medications; and most behavioral disturbances, especially agitation/aggression and appetite/eating problems. The article also suggests ways medical and mental health providers and researchers can help reduce caregiver stress.

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