Suffer from Depression? Be Careful about caring for Spouse with Alzheimer’s

November 23rd, 2015 by beasleyferber

A study out of the University of Eastern Finland suggests that caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s Disease, never easy under any circumstances, may be even worse for the caregiver spouse if he or she suffers from Depression. The researchers followed 236 families for three years after a spouse was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. For spouses who suffered from depression, care-giving was much more stressful than for others. According to the study, the care-giver spouse should consider having a mental health screening when their spouse is diagnosed. The participants in the study included 166 Alzheimer’s patients being cared for by spouses and 70 cared for by other, non-spouse caregivers. Over three years, psychological stress increased significantly among spousal caregivers, but not non-spousal caregivers. The study suggests that doctors consider two people with respect to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, i.e., the patient and his or her spouse.

This study is consistent with what we have found in our practice. It is not unusual for the caregiver spouse to become significantly ill while caring for their spouse with Alzheimer’s. In our non-medical opinion, the care-giver spouse simply gets worn out. Not only are they exhausted physically from dealing with the Alzheimer’s patient, but they literally make themselves sick with worry and anxiety. We don’t have any easy answer for this issue, or any answer at all for that matter, but just wanted to point out that this is a huge social problem that needs our society’s attention.

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