Dementia Patients Cared for by Family Members in Poor Mental Health Die Earlier, Study Suggests

Dementia Patients Cared for by Family Members in Poor Mental Health Die Earlier, Study Suggests
Patients with dementia or other neurodegenerative diseases may die earlier if family members who act as caregivers have poor mental health, according to a study published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). While depression and anxiety among caregivers has been linked to a poorer quality of care, it is the first time that poor mental health was seen to influence mortality. This finding further highlights the importance of supporting family caregivers in their task. "Our finding of the strong relationship between patient survival and caregiver mental health underscores the profound intertwining of the lives and well-being of caregivers and patients as they engage in one of life's most challenging and intimate relationships," Robert Levenson, a professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley and the study’s senior author, said in a news story written by Yasmin Anwar. The study “Poor caregiver mental health predicts mortality of patients with neurodegenerative disease,” noted that patients cared for by family members with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, died on average 14 months earlier compared to those tended by caregivers in good mental health. Also, when researchers took into account patient-related factors such as diagnosis, sex, age, dementia severity, caregiver physical health had no impact on patient mortality. "These findings make a compelling case that helping preserve the mental health of caregivers
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