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Polenick CA, Leggett AN, Maust DT, Kales HC. Medical Care Tasks among Spousal Dementia Caregivers: Links to Care-Related Sleep Disturbances. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. 2018 May 1; 26(5):589-597.
OBJECTIVE: Medical care tasks are commonly provided by spouses caring for persons living with dementia (PLWDs). These tasks reflect complex care demands that may interfere with sleep, yet their implications for caregivers' sleep outcomes are unknown. The authors evaluated the association between caregivers' medical/nursing tasks (keeping track of medications; managing tasks such as ostomy care, intravenous lines, or blood testing; giving shots/injections; and caring for skin wounds/sores) and care-related sleep disturbances. METHODS: A retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study and National Study of Caregiving was conducted. Spousal caregivers and PLWDs/proxies were interviewed by telephone at home. The U.S. sample included 104 community-dwelling spousal caregivers and PLWDs. Caregivers reported on their sociodemographic and health characteristics, caregiving stressors, negative caregiving relationship quality, and sleep disturbances. PLWDs (or proxies) reported on their health conditions and sleep problems. RESULTS: Caregivers who performed a higher number of medical/nursing tasks reported significantly more frequent care-related sleep disturbances, controlling for sociodemographic and health characteristics, caregiving stressors, negative caregiving relationship quality, and PLWDs' sleep problems and health conditions. Post hoc tests showed that wound care was independently associated with more frequent care-related sleep disturbances after accounting for the other medical/nursing tasks and covariates. CONCLUSION: Spousal caregivers of PLWDs who perform medical/nursing tasks may be at heightened risk for sleep disturbances and associated adverse health consequences. Interventions to promote the well-being of both care partners may benefit from directly addressing caregivers' needs and concerns about their provision of medical/nursing care.