Dementia Caregiver Burden: A Research Update and Critical Analysis

Sheung Tak Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

270 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose of Review: This article provides an updated review of the determinants of caregiver burden and depression, with a focus on care demands and especially the differential effects of various neuropsychiatric symptoms or symptom clusters. Moreover, studies on caregivers for frontotemporal and Lewy body dementias were referred to in order to identify differences and similarities with the mainstream literature based largely on Alzheimer caregivers. Recent Findings: As a group, neuropsychiatric symptoms are most predictive of caregiver burden and depression regardless of dementia diagnosis, but the effects appear to be driven primarily by disruptive behaviors (e.g., agitation, aggression, disinhibition), followed by delusions and mood disturbance. Disruptive behaviors are more disturbing partly because of the adverse impact on the emotional connection between the caregiver and the care-recipient and partly because they exacerbate difficulties in other domains (e.g., caring for activities of daily living). In behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, not only are these disruptive behaviors more prominent but they are also more disturbing due to the care-recipient’s insensitivity to others’ feelings. In Lewy body dementia, visual hallucinations also appear to be distressing. Summary: The disturbing nature of disruptive behaviors cuts across dementia conditions, but the roles played by symptoms that are unique or particularly serious in a certain condition need to be explored further.

Original languageEnglish
Article number64
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Issue number9
Early online date10 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
  • Burden
  • Dementia caregiving
  • Depression
  • Functional impairments
  • Neuropsychiatric symptoms

Cite this