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'People have no idea how isolating caring can be': Study shows high levels of depression among dementia carers

It is the largest study undertaken in Ireland to examine the health and wellbeing of people caring for their spouse with dementia.

Image: Shutterstock/Ocskay Bence

A NEW STUDY has found that close to two out of every five people caring for a spouse with dementia suffer from some form of clinically significant depression.

The study also found that another 40% of carers reported levels of depressive symptoms which were not clinically significant.

De-Stress: A Study to assess the health and wellbeing of spousal caters of people with dementia in Ireland, was launched yesterday at Trinity College Dublin.

It is the largest study undertaken in Ireland to examine the health and wellbeing of people caring for their spouse with dementia.

TCD researchers identified a number of areas of concern for carers. It explored the amount of stress faced by carers of people with dementia and the impact caring has on their lives.

The study found that nearly of all carers in the study spent all of their waking time looking after their spouse. A total of 15% of those surveyed said they had given up their jobs to care.

Most carers (79%) said that they themselves provided the vast majority of care for their spouse.

In terms of positive aspects, carers in general found that they appreciated life more and felt needed and useful. The majority said that they felt they had no choice in taking on the role of spousal carer but took it on willingly.

There are currently in the region of 55,000 people living with dementia in Ireland. This number is set to double over the next 20 years.

The majority of people with dementia (63%) live at home in the community. Over 180,000 people in Ireland are currently or have been carers for their family member or partner with dementia.

Commenting on the findings of the study, Professor Sabina Brennan, director of the NEIL Memory Research Unit at TCD said carers were not adequately supported in their role.

“Carers are an invaluable resource, but sadly they are not adequately supported in their role and consequently their health may be affected,” she said.

If we are serious about supporting people to live well and die in their chosen setting then we need to invest in quality services to support both carers and those being cared for.

The study interacted with of 200 people in Ireland who cared for their spouse with dementia.

You can view the full study here 

Read: One ‘diet drink’ a day could increase risk of dementia and strokes – seven-year study

Read: A new study suggests living near a busy road could increase your chances of dementia

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