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Perspectives on the Person with Dementia and Family Caregiving in Ireland

Suzanne Cahill

This book is all about dementia in Ireland and what has and has not been happening in a country where dementia has been a taboo topic for so long. In particular it examines the dementia landscape since late 2014, following the launch of Ireland’s first National Dementia Strategy. A lot has happened in Ireland since that time but a lot more needs to happen for people to live well with dementia and have their human rights upheld. There are an estimated 55,000 Irish people living with dementia and these figures are set to triple by 2050. Although topics explored in the book,such as obtaining a diagnosis, accessing home care services and moving from home into a nursing home relate to Ireland, they are discussed against the backdrop of policy, practice and research developments in dementia in other parts of the world. In this way the book provides the reader with a wealth of information including research evidence, best practice guidelines and international expertise. The book has been dedicated to Mnánah Éireann, in recognition of the hard physical and emotional work, caregivers,mostly women do behind closed doors. Throughout the book, an appeal is made for more state support to be given to these formal and informal caregivers.

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CHAPTER 5 Informal caregivers of people with dementia

Extract

Introduction

This chapter addresses the topic of informal caregiving and dementia. In the first part, the meaning of informal care is clarified and differences between formal and informal care are identified. In this section, topics including motivation to care, hierarchies of care, differences between spouse and non-spouse caregivers and the changing tasks of dementia care are critically reviewed as are some well-known stress-coping models used to understand factors contributing to caregiver burden. The second part of the chapter advances to answer questions such as: who in Ireland are the informal caregivers; what care services do they provide; what type of income support do they receive from the government; why might caring be stressful and what factors influence the admission of people with dementia into long-term residential care? But first the focus is on a more general discussion of informal care.

Informal caregiving

Globally informal caregivers are the main source of support to people who need practical, personal and psychological assistance due to age, disability or long-term illnesses (Glendinning, 2018). Informal caregivers are also the main source of support to a person diagnosed with dementia (WHO, 2012; DOH, 2014) and may help to delay that person’s admission to long-term residential care (Brodaty and Donkin, 2009). Informal ←57 | 58→caregivers are an extremely important resource for governments as they deliver a broad range of personal and social care services. These are services that if countries were to deliver formally would result in significant financial costs to...

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