News » Media release: Carers of loved ones with dementia overwhelmed and distressed

Media release: Carers of loved ones with dementia overwhelmed and distressed

Over half of people caring for a loved one with dementia and cognitive performance issues report feeling overwhelmed by the person’s support needs.

For the first time in New Zealand, data from 35,500 comprehensive home care assessments has been analysed to show the extraordinary load family and friends shoulder when they care for someone living with dementia.

“The assessment tools from interRAI are quickly becoming a real asset for researchers and health planners. interRAI produces reliable data on many aspects of ageing in New Zealand, including the workload for carers, much of which was not available at all before”, said Catherine Cooney, Chair, interRAI New Zealand Governance Board. 

Catherine Hall, Chief Executive of Alzheimers NZ agrees: “This information shows how dramatically dementia changes the lives of the people living with it, together with their families, friends and communities.”  

“Providing care and support for somebody with dementia is extraordinarily challenging and many carers report feeling distressed or angry because of the demands of caring for their loved one. We urge people living with dementia, and their family and friends, to get help early. Your local Alzheimers organisation and your local DHB are only a phone call away”, said Ms Hall.

Some key interRAI data:

  • One in four interRAI Home Care assessed clients in 2016/17 had a formal diagnosis of dementia.
  • 35% of home care clients with dementia and cognitive performance issues require extensive assistance or are completely dependent.
  • 18% of homecare clients with dementia and cognitive performance issues receive full time unpaid care from family or friends, more than 40 hours per week, compared to only 4% of clients without dementia.
  • One in three assessed home care clients living with dementia and cognitive performance issues have daily episodes of troubling behaviours, for example, wandering, being verbally or physically abusive, or resisting care.
  • 44% of primary carers report feeling distressed or angry because of the demands of caring for their loved one.
  • 55% of family or friends who care for a person living with dementia report feeling overwhelmed by the person’s support needs.

Throughout New Zealand, assessors in District Health Boards use the standardised interRAI Home Care assessment instruments to help determine which level of support is required for elderly clients who live at home. The data is then aggregated to provide information at provider, regional or national level.

interRAI Services will publish this and more data about dementia in New Zealand as a special feature in their annual report in December 2017.

September is World Alzheimers Month.

If you think you or a family member with dementia need support:

  • See your GP for a diagnosis
  • contact the needs assessment service at your local District Health Board at www.nznasca.co.nz
  • call 0800 004 001 to get in touch with your local Alzheimers organisation. 

Back to top