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Caregivers often ignored by healthcare

MONTREAL, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- When patients experience impairment the healthcare system focuses on the patient, with little support for the family caregiver, researchers in Canada found.

A study, published in the journal Insight: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness, showed a significant relationship between increased perception of burden and higher levels of depression by the caregiver.

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The study involved people with blindness, deafness, or both impairments, and the spouse or partner who serves as caregiver. In the study, caregivers ages 65-93 were recruited -- six had vision loss, eight had hearing loss, five had dual-sensory loss and six were control participants with no sensory loss.

Lisa Westaway and Walter Wittich of Mackay Rehabilitation Center in Montreal as well as Olga Overbury of the University of Montreal, say nearly 21 percent of seniors with disabilities in Canada are afflicted with vision loss, more than 50 percent of Canadian seniors age 65 and older have inner ear hearing loss and among those age 70 and older, 9 percent to 21 percent have some degree of dual-sensory loss.

The hypothesis that spouses whose partners had sensory loss would report higher levels of both burden and depression compared to the controls was not found at a statistically significant level. But one comparison that did show a significant difference indicated those with no sensory loss, experienced a greater feeling of burden than those in the hearing-impaired group, the researchers say.

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The results were somewhat surprising, the researchers say.

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