It is usually thought that the patient is the only one who suffers, but really behind a subject suffering from some pathology there is a group of people who are also affected in some way by that situation.
The Zarit scale is a psychometric evaluation instrument designed to measure the level of condition that people dedicated to caring for patients diagnosed with some type of dementia may have.
In this article we will review the technical data sheet of the zarit scale, we will see the procedure for its application and correction, the population to which this scale is destined, 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 items . This instrument is intended to measure the level of awareness and perception of caregivers regarding the areas of their lives that are affected by 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, bearing in mind that caring for a person with dementia is a demanding task in several aspects , and can significantly alter the lives of those who care for this type of patient.
The financial and social resources invested in care are also taken into account by the items on the Zarit scale.
The score range for this instrument is between 22 and 110 points, the higher the score range obtained by the subject, the higher the level of condition he presents with respect to his work as a caregiver.
The application of this instrument can take many forms. For example, a collective application could be made if a survey is being conducted on a sample population. It can also be self-administered , in case we are caring for a patient and 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 are obtained, in the 22 reactive items, they are added up. 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 as follows:
- No overload: 22- 46.
- Overload: 47-55.
- Intense overload: 56-110.
The population for which the Zarit scale is intended includes all those people who meet the characteristic of providing care to one or more patients with some type of diagnosed dementia.
When the subject finds himself taking care of a loved one, it is difficult to make him understand that it is not healthy to give oneself 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 dependency that the caregiver presents for the subject he or she is caring for.
Sometimes 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 whether a person may be experiencing caregiver syndrome , which is a state of generalised impairment caused by caring 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 completely modify the roles that each of them play within their nucleus.
This situation complicates their daily activities to a high degree and may mean the loss of jobs, family separations, among other unadaptive situations for subjects who present the caregiver syndrome.
Recommendations for avoiding the syndrome
In general terms, the professional guidelines that are usually given to caregivers to reduce the risk of presenting this symptomatology are the following:
- Don’t be the only one dedicated to care, delegate functions .
- Avoiding social isolation at all costs.
- Preventing high stress levels.
- Discuss the patient’s progress with other family members or caregivers.
- Maintain healthy living habits (food, 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 should work on promoting their autonomy and channeling any behavioral problems they may have. With the purpose of achieving that the subject distributes adequately the time between its life and the one of the patient to whom it takes care of.
- Archury, D. M. (2011). Quality of life for caregivers of chronically ill patients with partial dependency. 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.