Caring for an older spouse with a psychiatric illness
Abstract This is a descriptive study of the second stage of a community survey of older people, in which the prevalence of psychiatric illness among married individuals was significantly lower than among the currently unmarried (13.7% versus 25.6%, p 0.00001). Couples in which one or both partners had dementia or depression were interviewed to determine psychiatric status, social difficulties and support. Caregiving spouses of those with either depression or dementia were both at high risk of mental illness: overall 50% were GHQ cases. The most frequently reported social difficulties concerned loneliness, social life, housing and finance. Both practical and psychosocial difficulties should be taken into account in planning interventions for this group.