Parkinson’s caregivers report emotional health has deteriorated amid pandemic
According to an online survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted caregivers of Parkinson’s patients, with a large portion of caregivers reporting sadness and anxiety.
The conclusions of the study, “Impact of COVID-19 on the burden and nutrition of family caregivers of people with Parkinson’s diseaseWere presented at the 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, held November 10-13, and published as an abstract in the journal Innovation in aging.
Quarantine and isolation measures during the pandemic had an impact on the overall well-being and quality of life of people belonging to particularly vulnerable groups, such as those with chronic neurological disorders.
People with Parkinson’s disease have experienced worsening of both motor and non-motor symptoms. Lockdowns due to COVID-19 have resulted in decreased sleep quality and worsening disease-related symptoms in these patients.
Yet the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on family caregivers of patients with Parkinson’s disease are unknown. To find out more, researchers at the University of Rhode Island and Rowan University in New Jersey conducted an online survey of caregiver burden and nutritional behaviors during COVID-19.
The survey consisted of 38 open and closed questions. Open-ended questions allow people to provide a free-form answer while closed-ended questions require yes or no answers or have a predetermined set of answers.
A total of 34 caregivers responded to the online survey. Most of the participants were women (65%) and the average age was 67 (age range 47-82). Most of those surveyed (62%) said they felt their relationship with the patient had stayed the same or had improved slightly since the start of the pandemic.
Many respondents (41%) said they had to make a small or increased number of adjustments to their schedules “and experienced mild or increased physical strain as a result of caregiving,” the researchers wrote.
Almost 60% of caregivers reported an increase in the number of times they felt sad or hopeless, and 77% reported an increase in the number of times they felt anxious or worried.
Researchers have identified several themes associated with the impact of COVID-19 on the burden of caregivers. These included fear, stress and isolation; increased responsibilities; no change in caregiving.
Themes related to the effects of COVID-19 on diet and eating habits have also been identified. Themes related to eating behavior included healthier eating habits, increased snacking and boredom, and no change in eating habits.
“The results suggest that COVID-19 has negatively impacted the well-being of caregivers and further exploration of changes in food intake is warranted,” the researchers concluded.