Support gap in dementia family caregivers from Italy and Poland

Original Article, Zdr Publ 2012;122(2): 160-164


1 Department of Public Health, Medical University of Białystok, Poland

2 Department of Geriatrics, Medical University of Białystok, Poland
3 Scientific Technological Area, Socio Economic Research Centre, National Institute of Health and Science on Aging (I.N.R.C.A.), Ancona, Italy


Introduction. With the progress of dementia, care needs increase substantially. Lack of adequate care support in community is among the reasons of early institutionalization of demented persons.

Aim. The aim of the study is to compare the “support gap” in the Italian and Polish family caregivers of disabled older persons with probable dementia.
Material and methods. The study was a secondary analysis of the EUROFAMCARE data, limited to the Polish (n=131) and Italian (n=293) caregivers who provided care and support for severely disabled relatives with memory impairment and behavioral disorders. The caregivers indicating a given type of support as very important and simultaneously not being met for them were definedas not provided with caring support, i.e. making a “support gap”.
Results. Regardless of the country, there were significant gaps between the preferred types of support and low use of these care services. The highest gaps referred to informational and organizational support, planning future care, and financial support. The findings confirmed widespread demand for care support among dementia caregivers in both countries; however the size of relevant support gaps differed between countries.
Conclusions. In both countries there is an urgent need for the development of a respite care services for family caregivers, such as a temporary break from caring process. The special needs of family caregivers of demented older people ought to be taken into consideration by health and social care organizers, as well as policy makers in order to lower the care burden and to enhance caregivers’ willingness to continue the care.

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family caregivers, services, dementia, disability, support gap



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