Meeting the Needs of Dementia Patients

Dementia patients and their caregivers may need programs to address unmet needs

(RxWiki News) Mental disorders in the elderly, like dementia, can create many special needs for the patient and their caregivers. Many of the needs may be met, but some may not.

A recent study attempted to identify met and unmet needs for elderly people with mental disorders and their caregivers. They found that 40 percent of people with mental disorders reported a lack of daytime activities.

With the many things that caregivers must attend to, some needs may go unmet. Patients, caregivers and doctors can work together to find programs to support the needs of people with dementia.

"Talk to a doctor about programs in your area."

Researchers in Portugal, led by Joaquim Passos at the School of Health of Viana do Castelo, interviewed 75 people who were over age of 65 and who had been diagnosed with a mental disorder. They also talked to 123 caregivers of these patients who were both family members and formal caregivers, like nurses.

They found that the two most common disorders in this group of people were depression (36 percent) and dementia (29.3 percent).

More than 50 percent or more of people in the study said their psychological, physical, memory and household needs were met.

Of the unmet needs reported, the most common were a lack of daytime activities (40 percent of people), social benefits (13.3 percent of people), and psychological distress (9.3 percent of people).

With other caregiver burdens, daytime activities and social activities may be overlooked. But these aspects of life can affect patient well-being.

People with dementia had a higher number of needs overall, both met and unmet, than depression patients. The study authors suggest that this may mean that dementia caregivers have more demands.

The study also tested the mental skills of the patients. Over 50 percent of the patients showed cognitive deficits on these tests.

People with more cognitive and thinking problems were likely to have higher levels of needs.

The authors concluded that dementia patients have more needs, which may increase burden for caregivers. They suggest that interventions be designed to address unmet needs and support caregivers.

This study was published October 24 in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The study article did not contain funding info or report authors conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 6, 2012