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Exploring older care recipients' sleep status as a predictor for informal carer distress: evidence from New Zealand's interRAI home care assessment data.

OBJECTIVES: Understanding factors affecting informal carers' well-being is important to support healthy ageing at home. Sleep disturbances of care recipients are increasingly recognised as affecting the well-being of both parties. This research assesses the relationship between indicators of care recipients' sleep status and carer distress, as well as carer distress with subsequent admission to residential aged care, using prospectively collected Home Care International Residential Assessment Instrument (interRAI-HC) assessment data. PARTICIPANTS: Data were sourced from 127 832 assessments conducted between 2012 and 2019 for people aged 55 years or older who had support from at least one informal carer. The majority (59.4%) of care recipients were female and 59.1% were defined as having cognitive impairment or dementia (CIoD). SETTING: New Zealand. DESIGN: Logistic regression modelling was used to assess the independent relationships between indicators of care recipients' sleep status (difficulty sleeping and fatigue) and primary caregivers' distress (feeling overwhelmed or distressed). Kaplan meier curves illustrated the subsequent relationship between caregiver distress and care recipients' transitions to aged residential care. RESULTS: Care recipients' sleeping difficulty (32.4%) and moderate-severe fatigue (46.6%) were independently associated with caregiver distress after controlling for key demographic and health factors included in the assessment. Distress was reported by 39.9% of informal caregivers and was three times more likely among those supporting someone with a CIoD. Caregiver distress was significantly associated with care recipients' earlier admission into aged residential care. CONCLUSIONS: Indicators of sleep disturbance among care recipients are associated with increased likelihood of carer distress. This has implications for managing the overall home-care situation and long-term care needs, as well as the well-being of both parties. Findings will inform research and development of measures, services and interventions to improve the sleep and waking health of older people, including those with CIoD and family caregivers.
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© Author(s) 2023. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.