Memory failures for everyday tasks in caregivers of children with autism

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Lovell, Brian ; Elliot, Helen ; Liu, Chris Che Sung ; Wetherell, Mark (2014)

The stress of caring for a loved one with chronic illness has been linked with impairments in cognitive processes such as attention and problem solving, though few studies have examined the impact on memory. Compromised cognition, in particular, aspects of everyday functioning such as remembering medical instructions and appointments, might affect caregivers' ability to maintain the consistency and quality of care needed by the child. A sample of 31 caregivers of children with autism and 51 parents of neuro-typical children completed an electronic survey assessing their levels of psychological distress and everyday memory. Perceived stress scores were higher in the caregiver group, as were self-reported memory failures for everyday tasks. The negative impact of caregiver stress on everyday memory was particularly salient among caregivers experiencing higher perceived levels of stress. These findings have implications for interventions that aim to improve caregivers' cognitive well being through targeting the psychological sequelae associated with the caregiving experience.
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