Background: In Canada, half the people with dementia live in institutions. Factors associated with institutionalization should be identified with the goal of implementing strategies not only to permit those with dementia to stay in their homes as long as is feasible but also to ensure that steps are taken for timely institutionalization when appropriate.
Methods: Informal caregivers of 326 individuals with dementia living in the community were identified and interviewed as part of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA). These subjects were contacted again 2.5 and 5 years after the baseline interview to collect information on the status of their care recipients. Survival analyses using clinical data for the individuals with dementia and data from the interviews with their informal caregivers were carried out using Cox proportional hazard modeling to estimate the hazard ratio (HR).
Results: Over the 5-year period, 166 individuals with dementia (50.9%) were institutionalized and the median time to admission was 41 months. From the multivariate analysis, the factors significantly associated with institutionalization were: type of dementia (Alzheimer's disease: HR = 1.83), severity of disability (mild: 1.51; moderate: 2.34; total impairment: 4.02), caregiver's age over 60 (1.83), caregiver not a spouse or child (1.55), and severe caregiver burden (1.71). Caregiver's burden was associated with the care-receiver's behavioral disturbance (partial r =.55) and the caregiver's depressive mood (r =.55).
Conclusions: Screening caregivers for burden and depression and designing interventions to decrease the consequences of behavioral disturbance on caregivers would be relevant avenues to explore to decrease institutionalization of people with dementia.