A sample of 129 supporters caring for an elderly mentally infirm relative consecutively referred to psychogeriatric daycare services was interviewed. Information was obtained on the problems encountered by their dependant, the extent of their involvement, the amount of formal and informal support received, the subjective strain and burden reported, and their expectations of their ability to continue in the caring role. An attempt has been made to use this information to describe the extent of strain and some of the determinants of strain involved in caring. The results suggest that the sex of the dependant and the age of the supporter together with the number of problems faced all influence the reported level of strain. The amount of existing community support, whether formal or informal, does not seem to mitigate significantly the strain placed on the principal carers.
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