Thesis

Relationship between neuropsychological functioning of dementia patients and caregiver burden

There is very little literature available regarding the relationship between neuropsychological functioning of a patient with cognitive impairment and his/her caregiver's leyel of stress or burden. The purpose of the present study was to examine the burden caregiyer's of patients with cognitive impairment experience as a function of the patient�s neuropsychological test scores and their functional abilities. Methods: Twenty-nine patients with mild cognitive impairment were recruited from community hospitals and clinics in the Los Angeles area. Patients were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery designed to assess the following cognitive domains: memory, attention, and information processing speed. The patients were also administered an observation based activities of daily living test which assess seven different areas of functioning, including ability to shop, grooming, carry out financial tasks, communication and understanding of transportation rules. Twenty-nine caregivers of the patients were administered a 24-item burden inventory, which is designed to assess their level of stress and physical and emotional burden in caring for the patient. Results: Bivariate correlation analyses were conducted between patients test scores and the caregiver burden measures. The analyses revealed a relationship between a specific neuropsychological domain and the caregiver measure. Specifically, the lower the verbal processing ability, the verbal memory, and functional ability of the patient, the greater the caregiver reported their stress or burden level to be. Interestingly, specific activities of daily living domains, such as transportation, appeared to cause the greatest burden in caregivers. Conclusion: The results from the current study suggest that neuropsychological test scores of cognitively impaired patients can be used when predicting the burden of care a caregiver is likely to experience. Further implications from this study are that we can assist healthcare providers in tailoring specific support programs for caregivers of patients with specific cognitive deficits.

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