A recent study from the University of California, San Francisco showed that dementia patients are twice as likely to go to the ER if their caregiver has depression. The study also supported evidence that caregiver depression is very common as well, with a 13% rate, which is more noted in younger caregivers (average age of 62). In fact, other studies revealed that, conversely, caregivers are at higher risk of depression and anxiety if they care for people with dementia. However, it is not certain that a reversal in depression will lead to a decrease in ER visits.
Given that as health and lifespan of the general population continue to increase, it would seem to follow that the rate of dementia is likely to increase as well, and therefore the number of family caregivers with these problems. Before taking on a caregiver role, awareness of these risks will become more important, as there are interventions to help prevent and treat depression.
The Alzheimer’s Association has good tips to combat stress and other problems leading to caregiver burnout, that may also help lead to more productive and meaningful care of your loved ones.