Why do dementia caregivers have an increased risk of death?

There’s an increased risk of death for dementia caregivers. One study found that it was increased as much as 63% over the course of four years, particularly in caregivers reporting strain and stress pertaining to their caregiving experiences. Interestingly, though, this risk of death was not increased in caregivers who did not report strain.

Some caregivers were able to manage their role for whatever reason -- perhaps their relative was not sick, perhaps the caregivers had a higher innate resilience, or perhaps they learned skills that helped them to cope. If they did not report that they experienced subjective strain from their caregiving role, then they were not at an increased risk of death. 

Clinically speaking, we often observed that the caregiver dies before his or her relative with dementia. This may be due to the increased stress on the caregiver. Whereas the care recipient doesn’t know what’s going on a lot of the time, the caregivers are acutely aware of the ins and outs, and are responsible for managing them. That does take a toll.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.