Utilisation of formal and informal care and services at home among persons with dementia: a cross-sectional study

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Abstract

Background

The progression of dementia disease implies increasing needs for both informal and formal care and services but also risk of institutionalisation. To better adjust care and services in the phase preceding institutionalisation it is important to find out whether utilisation of formal and informal care and services is determined by increased needs and by who meets the needs.

Aim

The aim was to compare persons with dementia (65+) with different levels of cognitive impairment, regarding utilisation of formal and informal care and service at home.

Methods

The participants consisted of 177 persons with dementia ≥65 years old and at risk of nursing home admission, divided into groups according to their cognitive function. Structured interviews were conducted based on questionnaires about type and amount of formal and informal care utilised, as well as questions regarding cognitive impairment, dependency in activities of daily living (ADLs) and neuropsychiatric symptoms. To analyse the data, descriptive and comparative statistics were used.

Results

The findings revealed that the group with severe dementia used significantly more help with ADLs and supervision in terms of time (number of hours and days) provided by the informal caregiver, compared with the group with moderate dementia. Utilisation of formal care and services was highest in the group with the most severe cognitive impairments (Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination score of <9). The group with severe dementia were more dependent in ADLs and had more neuropsychiatric symptoms (hallucinations and motor disturbances). They were younger and more often cohabitated with the informal caregiver, compared with the group with moderate dementia.

Conclusion

This study shows that in the phase preceding institutionalisation the ADL and supervision needs due to progression of dementia appear to tend to be met first and foremost by the informal caregivers.

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