Preliminary investigation of predictors of distress in informal caregivers of patients with delirium superimposed on dementia

  • Eleonora Grossi
  • Elena Lucchi
  • Simona Gentile
  • Marco Trabucchi
  • Giuseppe Bellelli
  • Alessandro MorandiEmail author
Original Article



Delirium superimposed on dementia (DSD) is common and associated with adverse outcomes. Current evidence indicates that some patients with dementia may recall delirium with distress for them and their caregivers. The aim of this study is to identify predictors of distress in informal caregivers of older patient with DSD.


A total of 33 caregivers of 33 patients with DSD were interviewed 3 days after the resolution of delirium (T0) and at 1-month follow-up (T1) to describe their level of distress related to the delirium episode. A linear regression was used to identify predictors of caregivers’ distress at T0 and T1 defined a priori: age, sex, level of education, employment status, delirium subtypes, delirium severity, type and severity of dementia, and the time spent with the patient during the delirium episode.


Caregivers were mostly female (81%), 59 (± 13.0) years old on average. The predictors of distress at T0 were the patient’s severity of both dementia and delirium. Moderate dementia was associated with lower distress, whereas higher delirium severity was associated with greater distress. At 1-month follow-up, the predictors of distress were the age of caregiver and time spent in care; the distress level was higher when caregivers were older, and they spent less time with their loved one.


These preliminary findings underline the importance of providing continuous training and support for the caregivers, especially in coping strategies, in order to improve the care of DSD patients and prevent the caregivers’ distress in long time period.


Delirium superimposed on dementia Predictors of distress in caregivers Stress 




Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was approved and reviewed by the local ethical committee.

Statement of human and animal rights

This article does not contain any experimental procedure with human participants or animals. All exams performed were done in routine clinical practice.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RehabilitationFondazione Camplani Casa di Cura “Ancelle della Carità”CremonaItaly
  2. 2.Geriatric Research GroupBresciaItaly
  3. 3.University of TorVergataRomeItaly
  4. 4.School of Medicine and SurgeryUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly

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