Loneliness and Caregiver Burden in Aging Adults Caring for Individuals with Dementia

Barbara Dabrowski, Deana Davalos, Psychology, Colorado State University, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 80523, U.S.

As the world continues to age, the need for mental health services also continues to increase. Current research suggests that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a fear that many older adults will face even more adversity than before, including risks of many different chronic illnesses and diseases, poor psychological well-being, and public health risks (Vahia, et al. 2020). Social isolation and loneliness are public health risks that need to be examined closely to understand other psychological distress they may cause, such as anxiety, depression, or feelings of a neglect from society (Saito et al., 2012). Extending this research, the Aging Clinic at the Colorado State University Health Center offered a free peer support group program for caregivers who were struggling mentally and emotionally during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine if participation of the caregiver support group reduced feelings of loneliness during the COVID-19 impact. The UCLA Loneliness scale was administered before and after the peer support program as well as other quality of life measures to understand the effects of the caregiver program for each participant. In this trial study, it was found that amongst the 8 participants, loneliness symptoms had gone down and that participants expressed a sense of community within the group. These analyses extend previous work (Lopez-Hartmann et al., 2012) showing that caregiver support groups have a positive effect on psychological well-being (i.e., loneliness). As this was a pilot study, more research needs to be done within this area of caregiving and social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Barbara Dabrowski

Institution: Colorado State University

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6660