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Open Access Research article

Reactions to caregiving during an intervention targeting frailty in community living older people

Christina Aggar1*, Susan Ronaldson1 and Ian D Cameron2

Author Affiliations

1 Sydney Nursing School, University of Sydney, 88 Mallet Street, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia

2 Rehabilitation Studies Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Ryde, 2112, Australia

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BMC Geriatrics 2012, 12:66  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-66

Published: 25 October 2012

Abstract

Background

The demands and consequences of caregiving are considerable. However, such outcomes are not commonly investigated in the evaluation of interventions targeting frailty. This study aims to explore family carers’ reactions to caregiving during an intervention targeting frailty in community living older people.

Method

A study of carers (n=119) embedded in a 12 month randomised controlled intervention targeting frailty in people 70 years or older, compared to usual care. Reactions to caregiving were measured in the domains of health, finance, self-esteem, family support and daily schedule. Anxiety and depression levels were also evaluated. Carer outcomes were measured at baseline, 6 months and 12 months and at 3 months post frailty intervention.

Results

Carers of frail older people in the intervention group showed a sustained improvement in health scores during the intervention targeting frailty, while health scores for carers of the frail older people in the control group, decreased and therefore their health worsened (F=2.956, p=0.034). The carers of the frail older people in the intervention group reported overall better health (F=5.303, p=0.023) and self-esteem (F=4.158, p=0.044), and co-resident carers reported higher self-esteem (F=4.088, p=0.046). Anxiety levels increased for carers in both intervention and control groups (F=2.819, p=0.04).

Conclusion

The inclusion of carers in trials targeting frail older people may assist in the identification of at-risk carers and facilitate the provision of information and support that will assist them to continue providing care. Further research that explores the features of frailty interventions that impact on the caregiving experience is recommended.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12608000565347

Keywords:
Carers; Frailty; Caregiving; Older persons; Assessment