Study Finds Depression Symptoms in Partners Caring for Dementia Patients May Start Long Before Cognitive Decline

A new study has found that symptoms of depression among older individuals who care for partners with cognitive impairments can present up to a decade before a routine screening can detect the first signs of their partner’s dementia. The research was carried out by scientists at the University of Michigan, including Geoffrey Hoffman, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. These findings don’t align with current belief that there are significant increases in care received right after dementia begins developing.

Hoffman stated that while conventional thinking suggested that the burden of caregiving and poor emotional health increased after a loved one started declining cognitively, the study discovered that the pre-onset period was a crucial time that could be used to determine the solutions and needs for families that would live with dementia.

The lead author of the study, Melissa Harris, stated that dementia was an illness that  impacted every aspect of an individual’s well-being and health, explaining that cognitive changes and the resulting disabilities developed over a long period of time before the symptoms presented could be used to diagnose dementia. Harries, who is currently pursuing postdoctoral work at Duke University, undertook this study as a doctoral student at the University of Michigan.

For the study, the researchers reviewed data from more than 1,800 people aged 31 years old and above. These individuals were involved in the Health and Retirement Study. Each of the respondents had a partner or spouse with new onset Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The researchers conducted an analysis of the changes in symptoms of depression and weekly hours of caregiving each respondent provided their partners.

After they had controlled for health, caregiving and sociodemographic characteristics, the researchers found that prior to the ailment’s onset, the expected count of partners’ caregiving hours and caregivers’ depressive symptoms rose every two years by 9% and 3% respectively. The researchers added that for every two years following the onset of their partners’ dementia, the expected hours of caregiving and symptoms of depression among caregivers decreased by 1% and 2% respectively.

While the researchers did expect symptoms of depression and caregiving hours to reduce at some point, they were surprised to learn that this happened after the onset of their partner’s dementia diagnosis. In their report, the researchers note that this may be due to caregivers having reached a point in their caregiving where they had learned to cope and adapt to the changes occurring as a result of their partner’s cognitive decline.

They added that the caregiving situation in dementia needed to be family centered because this would help to better support families.

The finding that spouses of people who later get diagnosed with dementia suffer depression long before the dementia diagnosis is made creates an urgency for new lines of mental health condition treatments, including those being developed by entities such as Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO). New treatments would support the individuals who develop these illnesses as a result of the demands of taking care of a partner with dementia.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/SILO

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