Living Reference Work Entry

Mental Health and Illness of the Elderly

Part of the series Mental Health and Illness Worldwide pp 1-33

Date: Latest Version

Dementia and Caregiving

  • Virginia WessonAffiliated withThe Cyril and Dorothy, Joel and Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training Sinai Health SystemFaculty of Medicine, University of TorontoDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Toronto Email author 
  • , Mary ChiuAffiliated withThe Cyril and Dorothy, Joel and Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training Sinai Health SystemDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
  • , Rhonda FeldmanAffiliated withThe Cyril and Dorothy, Joel and Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training Sinai Health System
  • , L. J. NellesAffiliated withThe Cyril and Dorothy, Joel and Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training Sinai Health System
  • , Joel SadavoyAffiliated withThe Cyril and Dorothy, Joel and Jill Reitman Centre for Alzheimer’s Support and Training Sinai Health SystemFaculty of Medicine, University of TorontoDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

Abstract

In the absence of effective options, interpersonal and environmental management provided by carers forms the foundation of dementia care. Much is known about carers, those family members providing care for someone in their family with dementia, but a comprehensive understanding of their assessment, journey through the stages of caregiving, self-perception, and definition of their own needs is lacking. To ensure carers can engage fully in providing dementia care, carers must be supported and sustained. This chapter will describe current evidence for understanding family carers in dementia and highlight key components of a suite of evidence-informed innovative programs and interventions. Carers deserve to be a consistent target of specific systematic assessment and care, and it can be said that the care of carers is a necessary component of the system of care of individuals with dementia. There are proven interventions for carers that address carer needs and can be brought to scale and disseminated. One such intervention is the Reitman Centre CARERS Program. Carers are the focus of the program with the goal of equipping them with specific skills and knowledge, including problem solving and communication techniques, to sustain them in their difficult and unfamiliar role. Looking after family carers by maximizing their abilities and minimizing their burden will ensure that they are able to be full partners in the care of patients with dementia.

Keywords

Dementia Informal carers Caregiver burden High-risk carer Working carer