8 out of 10 people who care for a relative suffer from anxiety and stress

January 18, 2010

8 out of 10 people in charge of caring for a relative suffer from anxiety and stress, regardless of their socio-demographic variables. Families, and particularly daughters, assume the "informal care" of dependent elderly people in most of the cases. This follows an investigation carried out by Ruth M ª Calero Pérez and directed by professor José Mª Roa Venegas at the Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology at the University of Granada.

The work in the UGR shows that in some cases this care in the family creates inappropriate behaviour in the relationship, and that the negative effects on the physical, psychological and social caregiver are highly related to the previous life history between caregiver and care recipient, social isolation felt by the caregiver, and the feeling of loneliness in the relationship with the care recipient.

To carry out this work, the researchers applied a questionnaire to a population of 203 subjects whose only requirement was to be the informal caregiver of a dependent elderly person.

Family and institutional support

Results reveal that both positive and negative cognitive variables (thoughts and assessments) used by the caregiver have a decisive influence on how caregiver and care receiver relate to each other. These variables include family support and institutional support, and modulate the relationship between caregiver and care receiver.

In addition, cultural variables such as parenting patterns and styles of education received, have clear implications in the way of being and acting of informal carers, which will impact on the work of caring.

Researchers from the UGR intend to monitor all these variables as a first step towards government intervention in order to improve the quality of life of this group, and consider that this action "should use a psychoeducational approach and, somehow, ensure a better quality of life for dependent elderly people's carers.

The fact is that the relationship between informal caregiver and care recipient, the authors note, "it is not an innocuous relationship, but it is full of effects, sometimes harmful, for the caregiver's physical and psychological health. Effects of stress, anxiety, stress, etc., are known to affect the informal caregiver. But we believe these variables are insufficient to explain the variability that occurs in the conduct of the caretaker in his relationship with the care receiver. Therefore, it seemed interesting to us to introduce variables of a cognitive and (rather less studied) socio-cultural nature, in order to clarify that variability as far as possible."
These research results were published in the journal Geriatrik and Multidisciplinary Journal of Gerontology.

Reference: Ruth M ª Calero Perez. Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Granada. Mobile: (+34) 635 393 471. Email: ruthcalero@wanadoo.es

Accessible on Science News - UGR

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University of Granada

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