The Role of Caregiver Burden On Cognition in Older Adult Care Receivers



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Dementia patients typically depend on their caregivers due to their cognitive deficits. Caregiving is associated with financial, mental, and social burdens. Research has shown chronic stress experienced by caregivers may increase their risk for cognitive decline and poorer quality of life. Despite these findings, few studies have examined the relationship between subjective caregiver burden as it relates to the cognitive functioning of the care receiver. This study sought to explore the relationship between subjective caregiver burden and cognition in the care receivers. Data was provided by the Health and Retirement Study. Composites of global cognition and caregiver burden were derived through Principal Component Analysis of the total scores of a cognitive battery and self-reported measures. Multiple imputation was used to handle missing data. Linear regression was used to assess associations of cognition in care receivers by caregiver burden while adjusting for relevant sociodemographic factors (e.g., years of age, sex, years of education, and depression). There was a positive effect of caregiver burden (n=715) on cognition in care receivers when adjusting for age and education. The relationship was no longer significant when sex or depression was included in the model. The findings suggest a significant, positive association between caregiver burden and cognitive outcomes, even when accounting for age and education. Length of caregiving, higher social support, and quality of care may better inform caregiving. Future investigations should model the longitudinal relationship between these factors in culturally and linguistically diverse sample to further elucidate the robustness of the reported associations.