Effects of dementia on relatives and friends

40 percent of Alzheimer’s carers in the country are suffering from depression according to a new study from University College London (UCL).

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can take their toll on the relatives or carers that are looking after sufferers.

The disease can rob people of their personality, make them forget, and cause them to be unable to deal with everyday life, demanding a significant amount of care from others. This can have a profound effect on those others.

Rebecca Wood of Alzheimer’s Research UK, one of the leading dementia charities, said: “Dementia doesn’t only affect those who are diagnosed with the condition: its effects are felt far and wide, not least for individuals and families who are caring for their loved ones.”

The study from UCL found that 4 in 10 of subjects who were caring for a person with dementia showed signs of clinical depression or anxiety.

This is such a far reaching problem as two-thirds of dementia patients are reported to still live at home, and as there is a total of over 800,000 diagnosed and undiagnosed dementia cases in the UK (according to Alzheimer’s Research UK’s website) this is a lot of people who are put under pressure as carers.

About a third of the population of the country are thought to have a friend or relative with dementia.

Lashing out, agitation, and a refusal to accept help by the sufferers can cause stress and sadness in carers, as well as feelings of frustration and failure.

A training programme known as ‘Strategies for Relatives’ was trialled, where carers were taught methods of talking to afflicted people, and ways to reduce stress in them. In follow up tests, it was found that those who went on the course were 7 times less likely to suffer from depression.

It is also thought to have saved the NHS money as the afflicted people were less likely to have to be put under state care when their carers had received training.

After the success of the trial, which was developed by Professor Gill Livingston at UCL, a grant has awarded to UCL to make the course more accessible to carers around the UK.

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