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Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 1997;11 Suppl 4:S35-8.

Behavior and caregiver burden: behavioral problems in patients with Alzheimer disease and its association with caregiver distress.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Behavioral dysfunction in Alzheimer disease (AD) is a major influence on the morbidity and disability of patients and is central to decisions on patient institutionalization. Behavioral dysfunction ranges from withdrawal, apathy, and depression to hostility, anger, and aggression, with most patients exhibiting some symptoms during the course of the disease. Symptoms of depression are common in AD patients (17-30%) and are associated with broad behavioral dysfunction and increased functional disability. Furthermore, the occurrence of depression in patients correlates strongly with caregiver burden and depression. This report summarizes the relationship between caregiver distress and patient behavioral problems. Administration of the Revised Memory and Behavior Problem Checklist provided information on the frequency of behavioral problems and their association with caregiver distress. In one study of 201 patient-caregiver dyads, depression-related behaviors were confirmed as the most distressing to caregivers. In another, the rates of caregiver depression were high (75%) among those caring for clinically depressed AD patients. Indeed, in a third study, 100% of patients with depression had depressed caregivers. The vulnerability of caregivers to depression is linked to their own age, gender, physical ability, personality, and available social supports. Alleviation of caregiver distress, burden, and depression will be of great value in the improvement of AD patient care.

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