Relatives Near or Far: The Role of Geographically Distant or Close Social Support for Dementia Caregivers
Jane Roberts

Research has demonstrated that all types of social support for caregivers of frail elders are not equally important or reflective of alleviating caregiver burden. Engaging in social interaction and including recreational activities appear to have a significant effect in diminishing the burden of caregiving. The present study pertains to social support and its relationship to quality of life overall among caregivers of community-dwelling dementia patients (M age=72.4 years). The author examined the relationships of caregiver burden, social support, and quality of life in caregivers with geographically local or distant relatives (N=144). Working from the assumption that having local support of relatives or others considered to constitute the support system would alleviate at least some caregiver burden, and that those with distant relatives would perceive less support, the authors found that those with formal interventions from a social service agency equally perceived adequate support despite the geographic location of relatives. The author concluded that the geographic distance of relatives who provide social support does not significantly impact the caregiver’s perceived quality of life; thus, local support may sometimes take the place of relative or family support to caregivers.

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