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Caring for seniors living with dementia means caring for their caregivers too

Annie Poirier, Philippe Voyer, France Légaré, Michèle Morin, Holly O. Witteman, Edeltraut Kröger, Bernard Martineau, Charo Rodríguez, Anik MC Giguere


To improve the care of seniors living with dementia, current initiatives typically target better identification and treatment of the patient. Our recent survey, however, shows we should also focus more on the needs of the informal caregivers who care for this population in primary care settings. This three-round Delphi survey sought caregivers’ views on the most frequent and difficult decisions that seniors with dementia, their informal caregivers, and health care providers face in primary care settings in the province of Quebec. Respondents consisted of 31 health care professionals, informal caregivers, managers, representatives of community-based organizations devoted to these seniors, and clinical researchers involved in the organization of care or services to seniors with dementia. When we asked respondents to rank 27 common but difficult decisions involving benefit/harm trade-offs, 83% ranked the decision to choose an option to reduce the burden of informal caregivers as one of the five most important decisions. Choosing a treatment to manage agitation, aggression or psychotic symptoms followed closely, with 79% of respondents selecting it as one of the five most important decisions. Our results point to the importance of attending to the needs of informal caregivers and improving the management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.


Caregivers; aged; dementia; spouse; decision making; decision support technique

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