Evaluating patient brain and behavior pathways to caregiver health in neurodegenerative diseases

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Abstract

Background: Caregivers of patients with neurodegenerative diseases are at heightened risk for serious health problems, but health differences between individual caregivers abound. Aims: To determine whether atrophy in patient brains could be used to identify caregivers at heightened risk for health problems and which patient variables mediate this relationship. Methods: In 162 patient-caregiver dyads, we assessed patient atrophy using structural MRI, caregiver health, and patient behavior and cognitive symptoms. Results: Patient atrophy in the right insula and medial frontal gyrus was associated with worse caregiver health; this relationship was partially mediated by patient neuropsychiatric symptoms, and assessing atrophy in these regions improved predictions of poor caregiver health above and beyond patient behavioral symptoms. Conclusions: This study shows the value of patients' brain data in identifying caregivers at risk for becoming sick themselves.

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Hua, A. Y., Wells, J. L., Haase, C. M., Chen, K. H., Rosen, H. J., Miller, B. L., & Levenson, R. W. (2019). Evaluating patient brain and behavior pathways to caregiver health in neurodegenerative diseases. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 47(1–2), 42–54. https://doi.org/10.1159/000495345

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