Longitudinal study of the mental health of caregivers caring for elderly patients with dementia: Effect of institutional placement on mental health


Department of Psychology, Faculty of Education, Tokyo Gakugei University. 4-1-1 Nukuikita-machi, Koganci-shi, Tokyo 184, Japan.


Abstract  One hundred and three family caregivers of relatives with dementia were longitudinally surveyed to examine the course of caregivers' mental health after the relatives had been placed in full-time care facilities. Mental health was assessed twice, with a 6-month interval, using the Japanese version of the 60-item General Health Questionnaire. The degree of social dysfunction was significantly reduced within 6 months after placement, while the other indicators of mental health (e.g. anxiety-insomnia, depression, somatic symptom and psychiatric morbidity) were not reduced within this term. However, anxiety-insomnia and psychiatric morbidity were significantly reduced more than 6 months after placement. Analyses by caregivers' lineal relations to the relatives indicated that only daughters-in-law showed a significant decrease in anxiety-insomnia and a marginal reduction in psychiatric morbidity. This study suggests that caregivers' social dysfunction was more greatly reduced than anxiety-insomnia and psychiatric morbidity within a relatively short term after placement, and that its effects on mental health might vary with the lineal relations.