Dementia is one of the most prevalent and severe illnesses affecting older adults. Based on a national survey conducted by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, it is estimated that 154,000 people in Israel suffer from one form or another of dementia and the figure is expected to rise to 290,000 in 2030. Studies conducted abroad have found that these patients and their family caregivers have multiple unmet needs and many problems with the quality of the services they receive.
MJB is conducting a series of studies on adults with dementia in Israel. This report presents the findings of a study that examined the quality of care provided by the health services to elderly with dementia and identified their unmet needs and those of their families. The study findings will serve as the basis for defining appropriate programmatic directions for developing and improving the services.
The study was conducted through telephone interviews with 321 family members of older adults, members of three health plans, whose medical records included a diagnosis of dementia.
The study findings show that it is possible to improve the quality of care for older adults and their family in the following ways:
Raising the awareness of physicians and family members of the importance of the advance planning tools (including care preferences, advance directives and power of attorney) and promoting communication and cooperation among care providers, including primary physicians, specialists and the social services.
Increasing the number of family members receiving information and guidance about dementia and the appropriate care, and raising awareness among the primary physicians of the importance of communication with family caregivers.
Identifying family caregivers at risk of a heavy or very heavy care burden and providing them with the necessary support.
These findings were reported and presented to key professionals in the Ministry of Health and the health plans. They are currently being utilized in the efforts to implement the National Dementia Program and the National Program for Palliative Care for people with advanced chronic illnesses, including dementia.
The study was funded by the Israel National Institute for Health Policy Research.