Supporting family carers of community-dwelling elder with cognitive decline: a randomized controlled trial

Int J Family Med. 2010;2010:184152. doi: 10.1155/2010/184152. Epub 2010 Jun 10.


Objective. Caring for a patient with cognitive decline has an important impact on the general well-being of family caregivers. Although highly appreciated, interventions in dementia home care remain mainly ineffective in terms of well-being. Consequently, in spite of an extensive support system, abrupt ending of home care remains more rule than exception. Method. The hypothesis was that the intervention of a care counselor, coordinating care in quasi-unstructured way during one year, will alleviate caregivers' feelings of depression. The study population was composed of community-dwelling patients with cognitive decline. A care counselor was at the exclusive disposal of the intervention group. Primary outcome measure was caregiver depression. Results. Finally, depression was 6.25 times less frequent in the intervention group. The actual intervention appeared minimal with only ten applications for more support followed by only three interventions effectively carried out. Although caregivers felt burdened and depressed, formal support remained stable. On the other hand, the availability of the care counselor made caregivers feel less depressed with the same amount of support. Conclusion. Carers do not always need to be surrounded with more professionals, but they want to feel more supported. In terms of policy, this could have some important implications.