The quality of life perceived by patients with Alzheimer is better than that of their caregivers

Alzheimer is a neurodegenerative condition that causes gradual loss of brain function. This illness worsens over time and affects memory, thought and behaviour. Alzheimer also has important impact on relatives and, especially, caregivers. “Assessment of patients’ and caregivers’ quality of life, and of the factors involved in their perception, are key aspects to be taken into account in Alzheimer’s approach”, explains Dr. Ramon Reñé, coordinator of the Functional Unit of Dementia (UFD-HUB) at Bellvitge University Hospital.

In this sense, UFD-HUB initiated, in 2010, the study “Quality of Life of patients with Alzheimer disease and of their caregivers, in Hospitalet de Llobregat (CUIDAL’H)”. At the beginning the study assessed 108 families (living in Hospitalet de Llobregat) with Alzheimer diagnosed patients, in mild to moderately severe phases, and their main caregivers. In the second phase of the study, this was expanded to all the families attended at the UFD-HUB from 2011 to the present, encompassing 300 families roughly. “The main conclusions of the CUIDAL’H project show that the perception patients have of their quality of life is better than that of their caregivers”, explains Dr. Reñé.

This better perception is a consequence of two main factors. One of them is the presence of anosognosia in patients. Anosognosia is the lack of consciousness on the difficulties or defficiencies associated to the illness, which causes that patients consider they have better quality of life.

Likewise, another factor that influences the perception is that more than 30% of the caregivers included in the study show depression symptoms associated to the fact of taking care. The study also concludes that roughly 60% of the caregivers suffer from moderate-severe overload. Depressions that affect caregivers, because of the severe overload they have in their daily life, influence directly in the perception that they have of the quality of life of the people they are taking care of.

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