Predictors of unmet needs in Chilean older people with dementia: a cross-sectional study

Tapia Muñoz, Thamara; Slachevsky, Andrea; León-Campos, María O.; Madrid, Michel; Caqueo-Urízar, Alejandra; Rohde, Gustav C.; Miranda-Castillo, Claudia

The needs of people with dementia (PWD) have not been assessed in any Latin American country. Several European countries have already related unmet needs with quality of life, caregiver’s age, burden, stress, anxiety and depression. The aim of this study was to identify met and unmet needs in Chilean older adults with dementia and to determine if those needs were associated with PWD’s, their informal caregivers’ and social factors.

This was a cross-sectional study. One-hundred and sixty-six informal caregivers and their care recipients were interviewed. PWD was assessed about cognitive function and their caregivers answered instruments about PWD’s needs, functional status and behavioral and psychological symptoms. Caregiver’s burden, depression, anxiety and social support were also evaluated. A stepwise multiple linear regression analysis was performed to determine predictors of unmet needs in Chilean PWD.

The most frequent met needs were “Looking after home” (81.3%%), “Food” (78.9%) and “Selfcare” (75.3%). Most common unmet needs were “Daily living activities” (39.2%), “Company” (36.1%), and “Memory” (34.9%). Caregivers’ lower age was correlated to a higher number of PWD’s unmet needs (rs = −.216; p < 0.005). Higher PWD’s dependence was associated with higher number of unmet needs (rs = .177; p < 0.05). The best predictors of unmet needs were caregivers’ low level of social support, high burden, young age and high level of anxiety.

It is necessary to address psychological and social needs of PWD. The fact that PWD’s unmet needs were associated mostly with caregivers’ factors, highlights the importance of considering both, the PWD and their informal caregivers as targets of institutional support. It is expected that recently launched national public policies decrease PWD’s unmet needs by the provision of new services for them and their informal caregivers.

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September 22, 2023


Needs, Dementia, Older people, Social support, Caregivers, Alzheimer’s disease, Mental health