Ageing and quality of life in family carers of people with dementia being cared for at home: a literature review

Deborah Cristina de Oliveira

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Background: Despite the increasing older population
providing care for family members with dementia at home,
there is no consensus in the literature in terms of how caring
impacts on their quality of life (QoL) and the association of the
family carer’s age with QoL outcomes.
Aims: To explore the available literature investigating
the QoL of older family carers (family carers aged ≥ 60) and
the association of family carers’ age and QoL outcomes in a
dementia context.
Methods: A review of the literature to December 2013
was conducted using Embase-OVID, CINAL, Medline-OVID,
Psyc INFO-OVID, Grey literature and the references of the
included studies. Cross-sectional or prospective longitudinal
studies published in English were eligible. The selection
and appraisal processes were performed by two reviewers
independently and the methodological quality was assessed by
STROBE statement.
Results: From the 12 selected studies, 4 were carried
out with older family carers’ samples and 8 associated the
variable ‘age’ with QoL outcomes. Eight different instruments
were used to assess family carers’ QoL, however none were
designed specifically for older people or older family carers.
The mean age of the carers’ samples ranged from 55.2 to 76.0
years old. Older family carers showed low levels of QoL and
were often below the age-matched standard population. Carers’
age was negatively correlated with QoL outcomes in most of
the studies.
Conclusion: Older people are increasingly involved with
dementia care and family carer’s advanced age was shown to
be associated with low levels of QoL. Future research should
investigate the QoL of older family carers separately and use
QoL instruments containing older family carers’ specific needs
and perspectives of QoL. In planning care and support, primary
health care practitioners should consider family carer’s age
group and their specific needs.

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