Life-space mobility in dementia patients and family caregivers: A dyadic approach

Int J Older People Nurs. 2020 Dec;15(4):e12341. doi: 10.1111/opn.12341. Epub 2020 Aug 15.

Abstract

Background and objective: Given that most dementia care is provided at home by family caregivers, caregivers' health and outdoor activities may influence persons with dementia (PWDs)' mobility. At the same time, PWDs' functional deterioration and mobility changes might affect mobility behaviours in their caregivers. The aims of this pilot study were to examine the relationship of PWD's life-space mobility (LSM) with their caregiver's LSM and to investigate the role of caregiver and PWD characteristics in determining the level of LSM in both PWDs and caregivers.

Design and method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 26 caregivers providing dementia care at home. Caregivers were used as proxy for assessing sociodemographic, clinical and physical function in PWDs. Caregivers' sociodemographic characteristics, LSM, social support, depressive symptoms, caregiving burden and preparedness for caregiving were measured.

Results: The level of LSM in caregivers was correlated with the PWD's LSM level. Caregivers who perceived high levels of social support and readiness for caregiving tended to report high levels of LSM. PWDs' age and independence in instrumental activities of daily living were correlated with caregivers' LSM.

Conclusions: The study findings suggest that the caregiver's LSM influenced and was affected by the PWD's LSM. This underscores the need for additional research that examines the role of caregivers' psychosocial and physical health on PWDs' mobility and the context of dementia care and its influences on how dementia care dyads decide and participate in mobility behaviours.

Implications for practice: The findings of this pilot study will be helpful in identifying a target for interventions designed to delay the onset of mobility disability and maintain and improve social participation in PWDs. To minimise the effects of mobility limitations in PWDs, it is critical to examine their mobility issues from multilevel perspectives, including their caregiver's LSM levels and characteristics that have implications for both research and clinical practice.

Keywords: aged; dementia; family characteristics; movement; walking.