Dementia carers needed for study

  • Deborah Condon

An ongoing study into the health and wellbeing of people who provide care to their spouses with dementia, is recruiting for volunteers.

Currently in Ireland, around 48,000 people have dementia and this number is projected to rise significantly in the coming years.

Almost two in three people with dementia live at home and most of these are cared for by a member of their family. There are an estimated 50,000 family carers in Ireland caring for people with dementia.

The De-Stress study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) wants to create a better understanding of the factors that affect the health and wellbeing of people who care for someone with dementia. It also wants to assess how the stress of caring may affect the memory and attention of carers themselves.

More than 200 carers have already taken part in the study, which began last June, however it now wants to recruit more volunteers. They should be over the age of 50 and currently be providing care for a spouse or common-law partner with dementia in the home.

Three-hundred carers will be asked to provide a saliva samples - these will be used to measure levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Participants will also be asked to fill in questionnaires about their physical and psychological wellbeing and their caregiving duties.

They will also be asked to complete tasks that will assess different aspects of mental functioning, such as attention and memory.

The participants will be followed up 12 months later to see if their stress levels have had an impact on their own wellbeing, attention and memory.

The study is co-funded by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI). According to ASI chief executive, Gerry Martin, this research will ‘not only inform the ASI's work in supporting carers of people with dementia, but also can inform policy, future research and the development of targeted interventions that can improve carers' health'.

Participation is open to carers nationwide until December and no travel is required.

If you would like to take part, or for further information, email or call (01) 896 8414.

The ASI runs a national helpline from 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 4pm on Saturday. Call 1800 341 341.

For more information on Alzheimer's disease, see also our Alzheimer's Clinic here


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