TBH Science Update June 2017 | What Makes It Difficult to Age in Place with Dementia? New Study Sheds Light

What Makes It Difficult to Age in Place with Dementia? New Study Sheds Light

What: Although aging in place may be optimal, a variety of factors can make it quite difficult for individuals with memory challenge to remain at home. A small yet elegant study published this month in the Geriatric Nursing Journal explored the common practical problems that may prevent persons with dementia from aging in place. Researchers conducted 6 focus groups (N=43) with both professional and family caregivers, along with assistive technology experts. Results suggest that caregivers list as “most important” problems within 3 domains: Informal caregiver/social network related problems, such as high burden of responsibility; safety concerns, and decreased self-reliance.

Why it Matters: While small, the qualitative nature of this study is of interest as it allowed for a depth of understanding on the part of the researchers of the specific nature and degree of challenges faced by caregivers that make it more likely a person with dementia would be placed in nursing home care. In addressing nursing and other professionals in the field, the data from this study could directly impact conversations around aging in place and perhaps help care teams work together in better addressing some of the practical issues that could extend aging in place for individuals.

The Takeaway: It may be possible to delay or prevent institutionalization by supporting family and professional caregivers and assisting them more effectively to find solutions to the common, practical issues that are major problems in maintaining persons with dementia within their own home or community. This is an issue that can be addressed on the individual level, but also should inform public policy and other organizational missions in supporting memory challenged individuals, their caregivers and families.

Thoma-Lürken T, Bleijlevens MHC, Lexis MAS et al. Facilitating aging in place: A qualitative study of practical problems preventing people with dementia from living at home. Geriatr Nurs. 2017 Jun 14. pii: S0197-4572(17)30119-2. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2017.05.003. [Epub ahead of print]

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