To estimate the quantity of informal care associated with neuropsychiatric symptoms in older adults with cognitive impairment
The Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study
A sample (n=450) of adults aged 71 and older with cognitive impairment drawn form the Health and Retirement Study
The presence of neuropsychiatric symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, agitation, depression, apathy, elation, anxiety, disinhibition, irritation, and aberrant motor behaviors) was identified using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory. Cognitive category (normal, cognitive impairment without dementia [CIND], or dementia) was assigned by a consensus panel. The hours per week of active help and supervision were ascertained by informant questionnaire.
Among older adults with CIND or dementia, those with no neuropsychiatric symptoms received an average of 10.2 hours of active help and 10.9 hours of supervision per week from informal caregivers. Those with 1 or 2 neuropsychiatric symptoms received an additional 10.0 hours of active help and 12.4 hours of supervision per week, while those with 3 or more symptoms received an additional 18.2 hours of active help and 28.7 hours of supervision per week (p < .001). The presence of irritation (14.7 additional hours) was associated with the greatest number of additional hours of active help. The presence of aberrant motor behaviors (17.7 additional hours) and disinhibition (17.5 additional hours) were associated with the greatest number of additional hours of supervision.
Neuropsychiatric symptoms among those with CIND or dementia are associated with a significant increase in the provision of informal care. This care represents a significant time commitment for families and a significant economic cost to society.
Keywords: neuropsychiatric symptoms, informal caregiving, cognitive impairment