Risk factors for loneliness in family caregivers of people with dementia and enduring mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America

Tomas Leon, Claudia Miranda-Castillo, Andrea Slachevsky, Thamara Tapia-Muñoz, Loreto Olavarria, Loreto Castro, Alejandra Pinto, Yaohua Sophie Chen, Iracema Leroi, Brian Lawlor, Claudia Duran-Aniotz, Emilia Grycuk, Bárbara Costa Beber, Fernando Aguzzoli Peres, Carla Nubia, Pablo Gaitan, Mireya Vilar-Compte, Roger O'Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness has increased in the general population due to government measures to contain the spread of the disease. In Latin America (LA), caregiving is most often delivered informally by family members Family caregivers often face mental health challenges linked to their caregiving role and their social context. Pandemic-related social restrictions have been especially detrimental for older people with dementia or other brain health challenges, as well as their family caregivers. We aimed to investigate the associations of loneliness, social isolation and care burden in these family caregivers. Method: We undertook a cross-sectional survey of over 300 informal caregivers of people with dementia or enduring mental health problems living in 4 Latin American countries, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. We categorized loneliness into 3 groups ‘low’, ‘moderate’ and ‘severe loneliness’. Here, we analyzed factors related to changes in the prevalence of moderate and severe loneliness before and during the pandemic using a longitudinal multinomial logistic regression model. Result: During the pandemic, there was a significant increase in loneliness prevalence (p<.001) among caregivers in Latin America, with more people having moderate (6.25% pre-pandemic; 17.67% mid-pandemic) and severe loneliness (2.78% pre-pandemic; 15.19% mid-pandemic). Gender differences in the prevalence of loneliness or higher levels of loneliness among dementia caregivers compared to caregivers of other conditions were not seen. The regression model revealed that the increment in risk for moderate loneliness during the pandemic was related to caregivers' age, level of education, and social contact/isolation. Increased risk for severe loneliness was related to caregivers' social contact during the pandemic and perceived mental health. Conclusion: Public health interventions regarding COVID-19 pandemic should consider increased loneliness in Latin-American caregivers. This population will need both, short and long-term mental health and practical support. Next steps include gathering more evidence on specific risk factors for loneliness and its impact on caregivers’ physical and mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere064193
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Volume18
Issue numberS8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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