This instrument is used to measure the degree of well-being of those who care for patients with dementia.
In general, it is thought that the patient is the only one who suffers, but really after a subject suffering from some pathology there is a group of people who are also affected in some way by this situation.
The Zarit scale is a psychometric evaluation instrument designed to measure the level of affection that people dedicated to caring for patients diagnosed with some type of dementia may have.
In this article we will review the data sheet of the zarit scale, we will see the procedure for its application and correction, the population to which this scale is intended, as well as we will review what the caregiver syndrome consists of.
What is the Zarit scale?
The Zarit scale was originally composed by Steven H. Zarit, and consists of 22 reactive Likert-type response items. This instrument is intended to measure the level of awareness and perception of caregivers regarding the areas of their lives that are affected due to their work.
The frequency values available to the subject to answer the Zarit scale are between 1 (never) and 5 (almost always).
The areas of the questionnaire include both physical and psychological, taking into account that caring for a person with dementia is a demanding task in several aspects, and can significantly alter the lives of those who dedicate themselves to caring for these types of patients.
The financial and social resources that are invested in care are also taken into account by the items on the Zarit scale.
The scoring range of this instrument is between 22 to 110 points, the higher the score range obtained by the subject, the higher the level of affection that he presents with respect to his work as a caregiver.
The application of this instrument can be in multiple ways. For example, a collective application could be made in case a study is being carried out on a population sample. It can also be self-administered, in case we are caring for a patient and we want to know to what extent we are affected.
In the field of clinical psychology, the therapist could apply this scale in order to know exactly the level of affection of his patient, and at the same time show him in a measurable way that it is necessary to look for better alternatives regarding his work as a caregiver.
Once the total scores of the scale have been obtained, in the 22 reactive items, they are added. As mentioned above, the range is between 22 and 110. The cut-off points that determine the level of affection of the caregiver, according to the Spanish adaptation, are the following:
- No overload: 22-46.
- Overload: 47-55.
- Intense overload: 56-110.
The population to which the Zarit scale is intended includes all those who meet the characteristic of being providing care to one or more patients with some type of diagnosed dementia.
When the subject is caring for a loved one, it is difficult to make him understand that it is not healthy to devote himself full time to these tasks. In these cases, there is an emotional bias that blocks the objectivity of the caregivers. In these cases, the therapist must apply the techniques and treatments taking into account the intensity of the dependence that the caregiver presents for the subject they care for.
At times, caregivers create a dysfunctional environment, where their actions are counterproductive for all parties involved (caregiver, family and patient)
The Zarit caregiver scale is designed, among other things, to determine if a person may be presenting the caregiver syndrome, which consists of a generalized state of affectation caused by performing care tasks for a person with symptoms of dementia.
The emotional, physical, and sometimes also economic overload that falls on some caregivers, especially when it comes to family members, can totally modify the roles that each of them play within their nucleus.
This situation complicates their daily activities to a high degree and can mean job loss, family separations, among other maladaptive situations for subjects with caregiver syndrome.
Recommendations to avoid the syndrome
In general terms, the professional guidelines that are usually given to caregivers to reduce the risk of presenting these symptoms are the following:
- Don’t be the only one dedicated to care, delegate functions.
- Avoid social isolation at all costs.
- Prevent high stress levels.
- Discuss the evolution of the patient with other family members or caregivers.
- Maintain healthy lifestyle habits (diet, sleep, hygiene).
- Have moments of rest (time set aside to do other things of personal interest).
In the case of therapists who have patients with caregiver syndrome, they must work to promote their autonomy and channel the behavioral problems that they may present. In order to achieve that the subject adequately distribute the time between her life and that of the patient she cares for.
- Archury, DM (2011). Quality of life of caregivers of patients with chronic diseases with partial dependence. Nursing Research: Image and Development: 27-46.
- Hugo, J .; Ganguli, M. (2014). Dementia and Cognitive Impairment: Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine. 30 (3): 421–42.