Family caregivers report abusing Alzheimer's patients

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More than 50% of family members who care for Alzheimer's patients at home reported that they acted abusively, according to a recent British study.

According to the study, 52% of family caretakers surveyed admitted to abusing their Alzheimer's-afflicted family members. Most frequently, the abuse consisted of shouting, yelling and name-calling. Just more than 33% reported "significant" abusive behavior, though less than 2% of any of the reported abuses were physical, according to the survey results.

Researchers at the Medical Research Council, a British version of the National Institutes of Health, say the results of the study show the extreme difficulty in caring for dementia patients. No similar studies have been conducted in the U.S. to date. The results of the survey appear in the Jan. 23 online edition of BMJ.