Taking Care of the Dyad: Frequency of Caregiver Assessment Among Veterans with Dementia

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019 Aug;67(8):1604-1609. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15882. Epub 2019 Apr 19.


Objectives: This study assessed frequency of caregiver identification and needs of a sample of persons with dementia (PWDs) and their caregivers to determine whether needs were addressed and whether documentation increased with growing levels of self-reported relationship problems and burden.

Design: Cross-sectional design using data from electronic medical record (EMR) review and baseline research assessments (Burden Interview and Mutuality Scale). Items from a caregiver assessment tool were used to identify documentation of important factors in clinical guidelines.

Setting: Michael E. Debakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX.

Participants: A total of 211 PWDs from a randomized controlled trial testing a psychosocial intervention for preventing aggression in PWDs.

Measurements: EMRs for 12 months before participation in the original study were abstracted, using a tool created by the authors to assess documentation of information deemed important to caregiver assessment in clinical guidelines (eg, caregiver needs, caregiver well-being, and caregiving context). The first two authors reviewed the EMRs, adjusting the tool, based on questions that arose.

Results: Of 211 EMRs of PWDs reviewed, 177 (89%) identified caregivers. Of these, 88% identified the caregiver by name or relation to the PWD, 28% assessed caregiver well-being, and 41% assessed caregiver needs. All EMRs assessing caregiver needs showed provision of caregiver support (including psychoeducation, skills training, or referrals for additional aid). Levels of self-reported caregiver burden were not associated with documentation of assessment; however, higher levels of self-reported relationship problems were positively associated with increased caregiver contact documentation and negatively associated with caregiver need documentation and Alzheimer Association referrals.

Conclusion: Healthcare providers identified caregivers in most of the sample, but less than 50% assessed their well-being and needs. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:1604-1609, 2019.

Keywords: caregiver; dementia; veterans.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Veterans / psychology*