Informal Caregivers of People with Dementia: Problems, Needs and Support in the Initial Stage and in Subsequent Stages of Dementia: A Questionnaire Survey

The Open Nursing Journal 15 Jan 2013 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874434601307010006


Objective: The ageing of the population is expected to lead to an increase in the prevalence of dementia. Providing support to informal caregivers is essential to promote their wellbeing and prevent serious caregiver burden. The aim of the study is to investigate whether differences occur between the initial and later stages of dementia in terms of (1) problems experienced by informal caregivers in the provision of care, (2) use of professional support by persons with dementia, (3) informal caregivers’ needs for additional professional support.

Methods: The data were collected within the framework of the Dutch National Dementia Program, which was instigated in 2005 by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to improve integrated care for people with dementia and their informal caregivers. This paper is based on data of a questionnaire survey among 1494 informal caregivers, collected between September 2007 and December 2008.

Results: Most informal caregivers (98-99%) experienced problems in caring for a person with dementia, irrespective of the stage of the illness process. In later stages, informal caregivers more often experienced problems in their social networks. Most dementia patients (87-94%) received ambulatory professional support.

Conclusions: Since informal caregivers indicate a need for additional professional support in all stages of dementia, professional support should be provided during the entire illness process. Informal caregivers need advice on how to cope with symptoms of dementia, how to deal with behavior problems and receive more information about (early and advanced stages of) dementia and the supply of support.

Keywords: Dementia, informal caregivers, illness stages, professional support, transition, survey.
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