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Family caregivers of elderly people with mental illness (not dementia) – who are they?
Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ, Institute of Gerontology. Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. ARN-J (Aging Research Network - Jönköping).
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In Sweden the context of care services to elderly with mental illness is complex and takes place in primary health care, psychiatric clinics, geriatric clinics and geriatric care. This creates a situation which is hard to overview and handle for the sole family. It is also known that there is a lack of knowledge concerning symptoms of mental illness and psychiatric disorders in old age, which means that elderly people don’t get appropriate assessment, treatment and care. Mental illness in old age differs from mental illness in younger ages; the symptoms may be more complex and are often combined with somatic disorders. Physiological and psychological changes in old age also reflect the mental health, and pharmacological treatment needs to be more careful due to physiological changes in the aged body.

These facts have an impact on the family caregivers. Family caregivers regard well-functioning formal care as a good support for them too. When the formal care doesn’t work or work poorly, or the professionals don’t coordinate the care of the aged person with mental illness, the burden is more massive for the family caregiver. It is also a fact that family caregivers of people with mental illness, despite their wishes, often serve as a coordinator for the professional care of their kindred.

Despite the unique context of the situation for older adults and their relatives, hardly any Swedish studies about family care giving for persons with mental illness focus on family caregivers of elderly. A common pattern is instead that family caregivers of elderly people with mental illness are included in studies concerning adults with mental illness and their relatives. Considering the fact that both symptoms of mental illness in old age and the way in which elderly are taking formal care of are different comparing to younger adults, this needs to be more explored.

The mental illness of the old person and the context of care services are two factors that influences the caregivers’ situation. Another factor is the relationship to the old person with mental illness. In the Swedish studies concerning caregivers to adults with mental illness or psychiatric diseases there is a wide range of relationships, from old spouses and siblings, to middle-aged children and young grown-up grandchildren. The relation to the person with mental illness reflects how the situation is perceived, but there is not much information to find about this over a lifespan.

The purpose is to describe the complex situation of the family caregivers to elderly with mental illness and to outline the fact that we don’t know much about them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 70 p.
National Category
Geriatrics Nursing Psychiatry
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-31610OAI: diva2:957098
6th International Carers Conference, Care and caring: future proofing the new demographics, Gothenburg, 4th - 6th September, 2015.

Theme: Health, social care and well-being: how do modern societies and economies manage care in the face of demographic change and more mobile populations?

Available from: 2016-09-01 Created: 2016-09-01 Last updated: 2016-09-01Bibliographically approved

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Persson, Marie
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