The research findings will be used to improve support in the community and health sector, which will be of assistance to carers and will enable older people to continue living at home.
Professor Matthew Parsons from the University’s School of Nursing, describing this national research as “extremely timely and important” says it aims to identify the factors most likely to cause depression, stress and anxiety amongst carers, as well as to develop ways to keep them supported.
The School of Nursing study hopes to recruit up to 200 people living in New Zealand who are the primary carers for someone who is diagnosed with dementia and is 65 years of age or older. The overall aim is to improve quality of life both for carers and for older people. The study has currently enrolled 106 people and more are needed to enable the research to provide clear answers to the questions it is posing.
Volunteers in the study would participate in a one-hour interview about their experiences with current support for caring followed by a second one-hour interview the following year about how that support has changed. All interviews would be carried out by health professionals.
“New Zealand is facing many changes in the coming years; one of them concerns our growing older,” says Professor Parsons. “Currently, 12 percent of the population is over 65; by 2040, this will increase to one in four. The changes in those over 85 is even greater. Although most older people live at home independently, around 30 percent of people over 80 develop dementia, which places people at the highest risk of entry to residential care, and often has a profound effect on family carers.
“The numbers of people with dementia is expected to at least double over the next 20 years. Identifying ways to look after carers so that in turn can care for their family members is a pressing question.”
People interested in finding out more about this study should contact Nabeel Abdrabalanabi on 021 322 237.
This research is supported by University of Auckland and Alzheimer’s New Zealand.