Cognitive functioning and psychological wellbeing in caregivers of people with dementia
Adams, Jennifer Louise
Background: It has been demonstrated informal caregivers of people with dementia (PWD) experience negative health outcomes. The current research explored caregivers’ cognitive and emotional well-being, in the hope of advancing understanding of how caregivers can best be supported. Objective: A systematic review was conducted to examine the relationship between caregiving for a PWD and cognitive functioning. An empirical study was conducted to examine the relationship between caregiving for a PWD and the experience of depressive symptoms. The empirical research aimed to understand how perceived suffering, intrusive thoughts and compassion contributed to caregivers depressive symptoms. Methods: Systematic review: A search of electronic databases was conducted. The research papers were systematically reviewed using an adapted version of the Effective Public Health Practice Project quality assessment tool. Empirical: A cross-sectional, within-subjects design was used. Participants completed six standardised self-report questionnaires online. Mediation and moderated mediation analysis was conducted using the PROCESS macro for SPPSS. Results: Systematic review: Fourteen papers were identified. There was evidence to suggest that caregivers of PWD had reduced complex attention when compared to controls. Empirical: Perceived suffering of a loved one and the occurrence of intrusive thoughts were significantly related to caregivers’ depressive symptoms. Compassion was not found to moderate the relationship between perceived suffering and intrusive thoughts. Conclusions: Systematic review: The findings suggested that caregivers found it more difficult to complete tasks involving complex attention when compared to non caregivers. There was not enough evidence to drawn conclusions about other areas of cognitive functioning. Empirical: Intrusive thoughts were found to be a potential pathway to depressive symptoms in caregivers’ of PWD. Research findings support the development and implementation of interventions targeted at intrusive thoughts. Research findings did not support concerns related to trait compassion.