Impact of young onset dementia on informal caregivers compared with late onset dementia

By Jo Moriaty for the Social Care Elf Blog. Published: 3rd March 2016

We know a lot about the long term consequences for family carers of supporting someone with dementia.  Much of this research is cross-sectional, meaning that we only have a snapshot of how carers are managing.  However, results from studies in which participants have been followed up over time (for example, Mahoney et al., 2005, Schulz et al., 2010) indicate that there is a ‘wear and tear’ effect whereby carers experience greater stress as time goes on and as the person for whom they care needs more support.  This can lead to them finding it more difficult to cope with some aspects of caring than they did previously.

For pragmatic and methodological reasons, most published research has concentrated on carers looking after someone whose dementia has developed after the age of 65.  We know much less about the challenges faced by those supporting a person whose dementia developed under the age of 65 (young onset dementia).  Research such as this, which has both a longitudinal design and includes carers of people with dementia of all ages is long overdue.

Original research article:

Millenaar, J. K., de Vugt, M. E., Bakker, C., van Vliet, D., Pijnenburg, Y. A. L., Koopmans, R. T. C. M. & Verhey, F. R. J. (2015) The impact of young onset dementia on informal caregivers compared with late onset dementia: results from the NeedYD Study. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

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