A study involving 254 people with dementia living at home has found that 99% of people with dementia and 97% of their caregivers had one or more unmet needs, 90% of which were safety-related. More than half of the patients had inadequate meaningful daily activities at a senior center or at home, one-third still needed a dementia evaluation or diagnosis, and more than 60% needed medical care for conditions related or unrelated to their dementia.
Unmet needs were significantly greater in those with higher cognitive function, in those with more depression, and those with lower income. Caregivers with less education and more symptoms of depression also had significantly more unmet needs.
Previous research has shown that greater unmet needs among people with dementia are predictive of nursing home placement and death. Caregiver stress also predicts nursing home admission for people with dementia.
The findings suggests that routine assessments of patient and caregiver care needs coupled with simple fixes in basic medical and supportive services and safety (such as, grab bars in the bathroom, carpets safely tacked down to prevent falls, and — a very American one — guns locked away) could go a long way toward keeping those with dementia from ending up in a nursing or assisted-living facility.
(2013). Unmet Needs of Community-Residing Persons with Dementia and Their Informal Caregivers: Findings from the Maximizing Independence at Home Study.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 61(12), 2087 - 2095.