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Caregiver Burden in Dementia During the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID19 crisis increases caregiver burden due to memory deficits, neuropsychiatric symptoms and functional impairments of people living with dementia during confinement, report scientists in JAD

December 10, 2020
Athens and Patras, Greece – Caregivers of people with dementia and milder forms of neurocognitive disorder bear a heavy burden. They are constantly confronted with challenging symptoms and behaviors and feel they are up against their limits. The latest results from a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease indicate that the COVID-19 crisis affects this burden since the pandemic has mental health implications.

Scientists and clinicians from the universities of Athens and Patras and the Corporation for Succor and Care of Elderly and Disabled-FRODIZO studied the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on caregiver distress. They contacted during the first lockdown in Greece carers of people with a neurocognitive disorder of the psychogeriatric unit at the Eginition Hospital in Athens, the Patras dementia day center, and the psychogeriatric department for neurocognitive assessment at the Patras office of the Hellenic Red Cross. Based on a standardized questionnaire, they asked caregivers over the telephone about difficulties of patients with memory function, neuropsychiatric symptoms such as depressive mood, sleep problems or anxiety, and last but not least about patients’ problems with everyday activities (e.g., preparing meals, managing household, personal hygiene). In addition, caregivers depicted their distress due to these symptoms and reported their feelings and worries regarding the COVID-19 crisis.

Symptoms related to the pandemic, such as feeling on guard, trouble falling asleep, or concentrating, were significantly associated with caregiver distress due to dementia symptoms. “This clear association highlights the effect of the pandemic on the way difficulties of dementia care are encountered,” underscores associate professor Panagiotis Alexopoulos, Department of Psychiatry at the Patras University Hospital at the University of Patras. Progression of memory deficits and neuropsychiatric symptoms also pertained significantly to caregiver burden.

“Our observations are an alarming voice for the support needs of caregivers of people with the neurocognitive disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic since they seem to belong to the hidden victims of the current crisis,” states professor Antonios Politis, head psychiatrist of the old age mental health services at the Eginition Hospital at the University of Athens.

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NOTES FOR EDITORS
Full study: “COVID-19 Crisis Effects on Caregiver Distress in Neurocognitive Disorder” by Panagiotis Alexopoulos, Rigas Soldatos, Evangelia Kontogianni, Maria Frouda, Souzana loanna Aligianni, Maria Skondra, Maria, Maria Passa, Georgia Konstantopoulou, Evangelia Stamouli, Evgenia Katirtzoglou, Anastasios Politis, Polychronis Economou, Maria Alexaki, Kostas Siarkos, Antonios Politis (DOI: 10.3233/JAD-200991) is published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease ahead of the publication of Volume 79, Issue 1. The openly available article is online at: content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad200991.

Contact
Accredited journalists can contact Diana Murray, IOS Press (+1 718-640-5678 or d.murray@iospress.com). To reach the authors for comment, please contact Dr. Panagiotis Alexopoulos (+302613603728 or panos.alexopoulos@upatras.gr) and Dr. Antonios Politis (+30 2107289272 or apolitis@med.uoa.gr). For questions about the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, please contact the Editor-in-Chief Dr. George Perry (+1 210-458-8660 or george.perry@utsa.edu).

About the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Now in its 23rd year of publication, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment, and psychology of Alzheimer’s disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease, and clinical trial outcomes. JAD has a 2019 Journal Impact Factor of 3.909 according to Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate, 2020). It is published by IOS Press. j-alz.com

About IOS Press
IOS Press is headquartered in Amsterdam with satellite offices in the USA, Germany, India and China and serves the information needs of scientific and medical communities worldwide. IOS Press now publishes more than 90 international peer-reviewed journals and about 65 book titles each year on subjects ranging from computer science, artificial intelligence, and engineering to medicine, neuroscience, and cancer research. iospress.com