Background: Developed countries are experiencing a dramatic increase in the proportion of elderly persons, as well as a progressive aging of the elderly population itself. Knowledge regarding the amount of formal and informal care and its interaction at population-based level is limited.
Objectives: To describe the amount of formal and informal care for non-demented and demented persons living at home in a population-based sample.
Methods: The population consisted of all inhabitants, 75 + years, living in a rural community (n = 740). They were clinically examined by physicians and interviewed by nurses. Dementia severity was measured according to Washington University Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR). Informal and formal care was examined with the RUD (Resource Utilization in Dementia) instrument.
Results: The amount of informal care was much greater than formal care and also greater among demented than non-demented. There was a relationship between the severity of the congnitive decline and the amount of informal care while this pattern was weaker regarding formal care. Tobit regression analyses showed a clear association between the number of hours of informal and formal care and cognitive decline although this pattern was much stronger for informal than formal care.
Conclusions: Informal care substitutes rather than compliments formal care and highlights the importance of future studies in order to truly estimate the amount of informal and formal care and the interaction between them. This knowledge will be of importance when planning the use of limited resources, and when supporting informal carers in their effort to care for their intimates. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.