New research shows that stress and lack of confidence in carers can also affect the quality of life and wellbeing of the person with dementia who they support.
We know that unpaid carers shoulder 75 per cent of the costs of supporting a person with dementia. As people in the early and moderate stages of dementia rarely use services, family and friends collectively spend an average of five hours a day carrying out caring responsibilities.
University of Bradford researchers, working as part of the IDEAL study of living well with dementia, wanted to investigate how the experiences of the carer might influence ability of the person with dementia to live well.
They asked over 1,200 people living with dementia to tell them how they rated their own quality of life and sense of wellbeing and satisfaction with life.
They then ask their carers about their experiences of care-related stress, how competent they felt as a carer, whether they could identify positive aspects of providing care, if they felt that they faced any social restrictions, and how well they felt they were coping as a carer.
What did the researchers find?
Comparing the answers of people with dementia with that of their carers, the researchers saw a pattern emerging. When a carer reported feeling highly stressed, lacking competence and facing social restrictions, the person they cared for was more likely to rate their own quality of life, wellbeing and satisfaction as being low.
This research shines a light on how important the experience of the carer is, not only for their own wellbeing, but also for the person with dementia. This further underlines how crucial it is that carers are supported, both emotionally and practically.
Carers: Looking after yourself
As a carer for a person living with dementia, you may experience a range of difficult emotions. Looking after yourself – and learning to deal with challenges – means you will be in a better position to continue to care for the person affected.