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Falls and Hospitalizations Among Persons With Dementia and Associated Caregiver Emotional Difficulties.

Leggett AN, Polenick CA, Maust DT, Kales HC. Falls and Hospitalizations Among Persons With Dementia and Associated Caregiver Emotional Difficulties. The Gerontologist. 2018 Mar 19; 58(2):e78-e86.

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Background and Objectives: Falls and hospitalizations are adverse health events commonly experienced by persons with dementia (PWDs). These events often require urgent care from a family caregiver and may increase caregiver stress. We examine falls and hospitalizations among PWDs as predictors of caregivers' reported care-related emotional difficulty, in addition to care-related stressors. Research Design and Methods: Cross-sectional telephone survey of 652 informal caregivers for PWDs. A multinomial logistic regression examined falls (last month) and hospitalizations (prior year) experienced by PWDs as predictors of caregivers' care-related emotional difficulty, accounting for demographic characteristics and primary and secondary caregiving stressors. Results: Over 20% of caregivers reported high levels of care-related emotional difficulty. Controlling for demographic characteristics and primary and secondary caregiving stressors, the PWD's prior month fall was significantly associated with greater care-related emotional difficulty; the PWD's hospitalizations were not associated with care-related emotional difficulty. Discussion and Implications: Approximately 30% of PWDs had experienced a past year hospitalization and prior month fall, and one in five caregivers reported high emotional difficulty related to care. Although secondary strains and resources of caregiving were strong predictors of care-related emotional difficulty, PWDs' falls represent a significant stressor that increases odds of caregiver emotional difficulty over and above other strains. Consequently, a fall experienced by a PWD may represent a key time for clinicians to assess caregiver well-being.

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