New study examines carer burden among family carers

A new study from the CESRD examines carer burden among family carers of people with and without dementia in Ireland. Here the lead author Áine Teahan explains the study further:
In 2014 the European Social Survey estimated that the number of family carers was double the size of the long-term care force, with family carers providing three-quarters of long-term care to older people in Europe. Despite their importance to European health systems, family carers experience significant personal and wider social challenges associated with family caring including reconciling professional, personal, and caring responsibilities; accessing community-based services; financial constraints as a consequence of having to give up or reduce paid working hours; administrative problems accessing services; and low social recognition among healthcare professionals. In particular, family carers of people with dementia experience high levels of stress, anxiety and carer burden.

The existence of high levels of carer burden among family carers of people with dementia was a particular motivator for the current study. This paper highlights that family carers of people with dementia are more likely to experience higher levels of carer burden and less likely to experience lower levels of carer burden. These findings suggest that family carers of people with dementia experience additional challenges associated with caring. While previous research has pointed to the symptoms of dementia as the main cause of higher carer burden in this population, given our findings we suspect a wider range of social factors could be at play.

This paper is particularly important in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The reliance of health systems on family care has increased and family carers have been expected to adapt with very little formal support. As the general population phases out of lockdown restrictions, recovery will be much slower for family carers of people in at-risk groups including people with dementia. Policy consideration of the unique challenges experienced by family carers could offset an increase in carer burden as restrictions lift, and advance the development of targeted support systems for family carers in the future.

Check out the paper here: