Despite the growing number of elderly patients with end-stage renal disease who need support, there are few studies about their caregivers. The objective of this study is to describe caregivers' characteristics and evaluate their burden and quality of life.
We studied caregivers of elderly patients (>or=65 years) on hemodialysis (HD) therapy (n = 84), on peritoneal dialysis (PD) therapy (n = 40), and a group of caregivers (n = 77) of nonelderly HD patients. Their quality of life was evaluated by using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey questionnaire, Caregiver Burden scale, and Cognitive Index of Depression.
Most caregivers of the elderly were women (78%) aged 55 +/- 15 years and sons or daughters (41%) or wives or husbands (50%) of patients. Caregivers' Emotional Aspect, Vitality, and Mental Health were the most affected dimensions. The Mental Component Summary mean score, adjusted for patient race, educational level, primary diagnosis, hematocrit, comorbidities, and physical functional status, was worse for caregivers of PD than HD elderly patients (36.3 +/- 1.9 versus 44.8 +/- 1.5; P < 0.01). The most affected Caregiver Burden scale dimensions were General Strain and Environment. Thirty-two percent of caregivers showed signs of depression.
Caregivers of elderly dialysis patients, especially of those on PD therapy, experience a significant burden and adverse effects on their quality of life. Educational, social, and psychological support interventions should be considered to improve the quality of life of caregivers.