A Comprehensive Analysis on the Demographics and Health Characteristics of Caregivers to Persons with Dementia in the United States

Open Access
Howells, Callie Lynn
Graduate Program:
Public Health Sciences
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 23, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Li Wang, Ph D, Thesis Advisor
  • caregivers
  • caregiving
  • dementia
  • demographics
With an aging population, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias is increasing worldwide. In the United States, informal caregivers currently provide millions of hours of unpaid care annually, the assumed costs of which would approximately double the $214 billion in current annual estimated healthcare expenditures. This study aims to compare the demographics, health variables, and caregiving status of caregivers to persons with dementia versus other caregivers and non-caregivers. Data on caregivers was collected using 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) responses from select states that completed the state-added Caregiver Module. Variables were analyzed for significant differences between populations using chi-square analysis, with additional analysis on select stratification of gender and type of care by AD/dementia caregivers. Finally, modeling was performed to identify significant predictors of caregiver-reported difficulties associated with caregiving responsibilities. Significant differences were found between rates of self-reported mental distress and difficulties experienced by the caregiver, dependent upon certain caregiving status and demographic variables. These associations provide further insight into the AD/dementia population, which may serve towards increasing awareness of existing insurance policy gaps and the importance of further investment into public outreach programs that would lessen the individual and growing societal impacts of providing care to persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.