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Authors

  1. Section Editor(s): Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

Article Content

People with Alzheimer disease are often cared for in the home by a family caregiver until placement in a long-term care facility is necessary. In a study of 258 people with Alzheimer disease and their family caregivers, three-quarters of whom were spouses, researchers found that most caregivers rated their own health as good and felt moderate levels of overload or captivity in their caregiving role.

 

Over the six-year course of the study, two-thirds of the patients were eventually placed in long-term care. This placement was associated with a risk of death roughly three times higher than that of those who remained at home; this risk decreased the longer the long-term care placement was delayed. "Long-term care placement is risky and hazardous, but the longer it's delayed the less risky it is," McKee J. McClendon, leader of this study and senior researcher at Case Western Reserve University, wrote in an e-mail message to AJN. The study did not investigate why the risk of death decreases over time, but McClendon said one possibility may be that as patients become less cognizant, they may not suffer the "transplant shock" associated with moving to a facility. These findings indicate that interventions to help caregivers to cope may help them to care for loved ones with Alzheimer disease at home, which can in turn increase the length of patients' lives.

  
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McClendon MJ, et al. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2006;61(4):220-7.