The objective was to describe the psychosocial burden experienced by informal carers of elderly stroke victims, and to identify its predictors among baseline characteristics of the patients. From a prospective study of 171 elderly stroke patients admitted to a geriatric ward for rehabilitation in the acute phase, 68 patients living at home with a primary caregiver were identified 6 months after the stroke. At baseline, all the patients were assessed with respect to motor function, cognitive function, global handicap and activities of daily living, and after 6 months the caregivers were assessed, using the Relatives’ Stress Scale. According to this, the most frequent impacts were worries that an accident might befall their relatives, that they had to reorganise their household routines and further, that their social life and ability to take holidays had been reduced. Impaired cognitive function was the only baseline patient characteristic that predicted a subsequent psychosocial burden on the carer. Special attention should be paid to elderly stroke patients initially assessed with impaired cognitive function and their caregivers.
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