[MOL] Caregivers series 2.... [00811] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Caregivers series 2....

Research Digest

October 27, 1999
Busiest Caregivers Have Highest Stress Level

In the blink of an eye, the lives of a stroke victim and his or her loved ones change forever. Activities once taken for granted, such as eating and using the bathroom, may now be impossible without assistance. Those close to the victim must cope with concern for the patient as well as the day-to-day demands of providing care.

Several studies have documented significant stress levels in caregivers three to five years after a stroke has occurred. However, researchers from Scotland recently studied a group of caregivers during the first six months after assuming this role to determine the amount of stress they experience, as well as the causes of that stress. These researchers, from the University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen, and Glasgow Caledonian University, hoped that their study would provide insight into identifying caregivers most in need of assistance and the types of services they would find most valuable.

A total of 110 patient/caregiver pairs were interviewed at one, three, and six months after the stroke. It came as no surprise that a significant percentage of caregivers were under considerable strain, and this strain increased over the six-month period. Caregivers who spent more time with the patient and more time helping the patient experienced higher levels of stress. Interestingly, caregivers who spent more time helping the patient but less actual time with the patient had the greatest level of stress, leading researchers to conclude that these were possibly caregivers who had to fit caregiving into an already busy schedule.

Other stressors identified include changes to family life, changes to personal plans, and confinement associated with providing care to the stroke survivor. Researchers also note that few of the caregivers used support services already in place, suggesting the need to identify caregivers' thoughts regarding these services when developing future programs.

Finally, in addition to increasing the availability of meaningful services for caregivers, these researchers recognized the need for supporting caregivers emotionally, with particular attention to helping them cope with aspects of their situation over which they have no control.

Warmly, lillian
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