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International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Volume 2012, Article ID 638267, 7 pages
Research Article

The Needs of Older People with Mental Health Problems: A Particular Focus on Dementia Patients and Their Carers

1Health Sciences, School of Health of Viana do Castelo, 4900-314 Viana do Castelo, Portugal
2Nursing Unit, School of Nursing of Porto, 4200-072 Porto, Portugal
3Clinical Neuroscience and Mental Health Department, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto/Psychiatry of S. João Hospital Centre, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal

Received 29 July 2012; Revised 20 September 2012; Accepted 28 September 2012

Academic Editor: Hiroyuki Umegaki

Copyright © 2012 Joaquim Passos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The problems and needs of older people are often associated with mental illness, characterized by a set of clinical manifestations, which constitute important domains for investigation and clinical practice. This paper presents the results of a pilot study whose main purpose was to identify met and unmet needs and to analyze the relationship between those needs, psychopathology and functionality in older people with mental health problems. A sample of 75 patients aged 65 or over, of both sexes, diagnosed with mental illness using ICD-9. The main diagnoses were depression (36%) and dementia (29.3%). Most patients had cognitive impairment (MMSE, 52%; CDT, 66.7%), depression (GDS, 61.3%), anxiety (ZAS, 81.3%), and moderate dependence (BI, 49.3% and LI, 77.3%). The main unmet needs found were daytime activities (40%), social benefits (13.3%), company (10.7%), psychological distress (9.3%), and continence (8%). The majority of these unmet needs occur with dementia patients. The majority of the carers of these patients had global needs (met and unmet) in terms of psychological distress. Findings also reveal that a low level of functionality is associated with dementia diagnoses. The association analyses suggest that dementia is an important determinant of the functional status and needs.