Abuse of older persons with dementia by family caregivers: results of a 6-month prospective study in Hong Kong

Authors


Abstract

Objective

To examine the association between care recipients' agitated behaviors, family caregivers' burnout, and abuse in community dwelling older Chinese with dementia in Hong Kong.

Design

This was a 6-month prospective study.

Method

One hundred forty-nine caregivers provided information on their demographic characteristics, care recipients' everyday functioning and agitated behaviors, and caregivers' burnout symptoms. Caregivers were re-interviewed 6 months later and provided information on changes in both care recipients' everyday functioning and agitated behaviors, and verbally and physically abusive behaviors directed at care recipients in the past month.

Results

The single most significant variable in predicting abuse at 6-month follow-up was abuse at baseline. In addition, verbal abuse was predicted by more co-residing days, a high level of agitated behavior, and a strong sense of caregiver depersonalization. Care recipients were more likely to be physically abused if they were male, had no chronic conditions other than dementia, and demonstrated a high level of agitated behaviors. Entering caregiver burnout into the model did not modify the association between care recipients' agitated behavior and abuse for either verbal or physical abuse.

Conclusion

This study is the first to establish an association between care recipients' agitated behaviors, burnout, and abuse by family caregivers using prospective data. The present results confirmed that care recipients' agitated behaviors and caregivers' symptoms of burnout are associated with family caregivers' abusive behaviors. Caregiver burnout did not mediate the association between agitated behaviors and abuse. Proper management of care recipients' agitated behaviors and adequate support provided to family caregivers may help prevent the development of new cases of elder mistreatment. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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