The Burden of Dysphagia on Family Caregivers of the Elderly: A Systematic Review
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With the rapid increase in the elderly population, there is a simultaneous increased need for care provided by family caregivers. Research in the field of head and neck cancer has indicated that caring for patients with dysphagia can impact a caregiver's quality of life. Given that many older adults present with dysphagia, one can assume that their caregivers are equally, if not more greatly, affected. The purpose of this systematic review was to examine all relevant literature regarding the caregiver burden in caregivers of community-dwelling older adults with dysphagia. A review of relevant studies published through April 2018 was conducted using search terms related to dysphagia, caregiver burden, and older adults. The search yielded 2331 unique abstracts. Of the 176 abstracts that underwent full review, four were accepted. All reported an increase in caregiver burden due to presence of dysphagia in care recipients. Worsening feeding-related behaviors were associated with burden, and the use of feeding tubes was more frequently associated with "heavy burden". The presence of dysphagia in community-dwelling older adults is a factor leading to an increased burden among caregivers. Although aspects of dysphagia play a role in the caregiver burden, the specific reasons for the increased burden are unknown. Clinicians should be aware of dysphagia as a source of the burden, and future studies should further define the relationship between dysphagia and the caregiver burden in order to develop comprehensive approaches to care.
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