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International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Volume 2013, Article ID 436271, 6 pages
Research Article

Family Composition and Expressions of Family-Focused Care Needs at an Academic Memory Disorders Clinic

1Department of Gerontology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA
2Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA
3Department of Neurology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA
4University of Alabama-Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA

Received 30 July 2013; Revised 26 September 2013; Accepted 29 September 2013

Academic Editor: Patrizia Mecocci

Copyright © 2013 Brandalyn C. Riedel 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.


Objective. To understand who dementia patients identify as their family and how dementia affects family life. Background. Dementia care is often delivered in family settings, so understanding the constituency and needs of the family unit involved in care is important for determining contributors to family quality of life. Design/Methods. Seventy-seven families receiving care at an academic dementia clinic completed questionnaires regarding the affected person and the family. Responses were categorized as focused on an individual’s needs or the family’s needs. Results. Respondents identified a mean of 3.77 family members involved in care. Spouse (80.5%), daughter (58.4%), son (46.8%), and stepchild or child-in-law (37.7%) were the most frequently listed family members. Questions regarding the effect of dementia-related changes in cognition and mood were most likely to elicit a family-focused response. Questionnaire items that inquired about specific medical questions and strategies to improve family function were least likely to elicit a family-focused response. Conclusions. Both caregivers and persons with dementia frequently provided family-focused responses, supporting the construct of dementia as an illness that affects life in the family unit. This finding reinforces the potential utility of family-centered quality of life measures in assessing treatment success for people with dementia.