Objective: Early onset dementia (EOD) poses specific challenges and issues for both the patient and (in)formal care. This study explores the use of (in)formal care prior to institutionalization, and its association with patient and caregiver characteristics.
Design/setting: Participants were part of a community-based prospective longitudinal study of 215 patients and their informal caregivers.
Participants: Baseline data of a subsample of 215 patient-caregiver dyads were analyzed.
Measurements: Analyses of covariance were performed to determine correlates of (in)formal care use assessed with the Resource Utilization in Dementia (RUD)-Lite questionnaire.
Results: Informal care had a 3:1 ratio with formal care. Supervision/surveillance constituted the largest part of informal care. In more than half of cases, patients had only one informal caregiver. The amount of informal care was associated with disease severity, showing more informal care hours in advanced disease stages. Fewer informal care hours were related to more caregiver working hours, especially in younger patients. The amount of formal care was related to disease severity, behavioral problems, and initiative for activities of daily living.
Conclusion: In EOD, it appears that family members provide most of the care. However, other social roles still have to be fulfilled. Especially in spousal caregivers of younger patients in advanced disease stages, there is a double burden of work and care responsibilities. This finding also indicates that even within the EOD group there might be important age-related differences. The relatively higher amount of formal care use during advanced disease stages suggests a postponement in the use of formal care.
Copyright © 2013 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.