Khoo Teck Puat Hospital1
COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption to the world. The continuously evolving situation magnifies the vulnerabilities of people with dementia(PWD) and their caregivers. However, little is known about how they cope and what they need. We aimed to study the difficulties experienced by caregivers of PWD and their needs during these challenging times.
We recruited caregivers of PWD from the registry of a memory clinic in a tertiary hospital. They were invited to participate in an online survey from April 2020 until June 2020. We employed mixed-method to evaluate the change in caregiver stress, factors underlying the stressors and their needs during the pandemic. Multivariable logistic regression was used to analyze the quantitative results, and framework analysis was used to analyze the qualitative results.
101 caregivers participated in the survey. The majority(n=33,32.7%) were aged between 51 to 60 years old, and children caregivers comprised 77.2%. 66(65.4%) of the caregivers reported worsening of caregiver stress. Multivariate analysis showed that factors related to the PWD and accessibility to services were significantly correlated with worsening of caregiver stress(OR=4.07,95%CI 1.57-10.51; OR=6.70 95%CI 1.69-26.55). Three main factors underpinned caregiver stress in qualitative evaluation which pertained to the PWD, caregivers and circumstantial issues respectively. Caregivers with worsened stress levels expressed the need for respite support and engagement programmes for the PWD.
The emotional and physical repercussions on caregivers during this pandemic are immense. Even as we institute measures to cope with the pandemic, we need to devise strategies that are responsive to their needs.