-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Dec. 20, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Most Americans with
dementia who live at home have numerous health, safety and
supportive care needs that aren't being met, a new study shows.
Any one of these issues could force people with dementia out of
the home sooner than they desire, the Johns Hopkins researchers
Routine assessments of patient and caregiver care needs coupled
with simple safety measures -- such as grab bars in the bathroom --
and basic medical and supportive services could help prevent many
people with dementia from ending up in a nursing home or
assisted-living facility, the researchers added.
"Currently, we can't cure their dementia, but we know there are things that, if done systematically, can keep people with dementia at home longer," said study leader Betty Black, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But our study shows that without some intervention, the risks for many can be quite serious," she said in a Hopkins news release.
For the study, published in the December issue of the
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Black's team
performed in-home assessments and surveys of more than 250 people
with dementia living at home in Baltimore. They also interviewed
about 250 family members and friends who provided care for the
Ninety-nine percent of patients and 97 percent of caregivers had
one or more unmet need in areas such as safety, health, meaningful
activities, legal issues and estate planning, assistance with
activities of daily living and medication management.
Ninety percent of those needs were safety-related. More than
half of the patients had inadequate meaningful daily activities at
home or a senior center, and one-third of patients still required a
dementia evaluation or diagnosis.
More than 60 percent of the patients needed medical care for
conditions related or unrelated to their dementia. This is a
serious issue because dementia patients are more likely to have a
serious illness for which they may eventually be hospitalized,
according to Black.
"This high rate of unmet medical care need raises the possibility that earlier care could prevent hospitalizations, improve quality of life and lower the costs of care at the same time," she said.
Most caregivers also had numerous unmet needs, including lack of
access to support services and education about how to best care for
their loved one.
About 5.4 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's
disease and other types of dementia, and 70 percent are cared for
in the community by family members and friends.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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