US Prevalence and Predictors of Informal Caregiving for Dementia

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 34, no. 10, Oct. 2015, p. 1637-1641

Posted on RAND.org on October 20, 2015

by Esther M. Friedman, Regina A. Shih, Kenneth M. Langa, Michael D. Hurd

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Research Questions

  1. How much informal care is provided to older adults with and without dementia?
  2. Who provides this care?
  3. Who receives intensive informal care?

In 2010, 5.5 million US adults ages seventy and older received informal care, including 3.6 million with cognitive impairment or probable dementia. Adults with probable dementia received 171 hours of monthly informal care, versus 89 hours for cognitively impaired adults without dementia and 66 hours for cognitively normal adults.

Key Findings

  • Informal caregivers provide 83 percent of the hours of care received by all older adults. Those with probable dementia received 171 hours of informal care per month versus 89 for the cognitively impaired and 66 hours for normal adults.
  • Spouses are the primary caregivers for adults with normal cognition, but daughters are more likely to provide informal care for adults with cognitive impairment or dementia.
  • Married people with probable dementia are more likely to receive intensive informal care than their unmarried counterparts.
  • White adults are significantly less likely to receive intensive informal care than their black and Hispanic counterparts.

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