Caregivers’ Perceptions of Family Quality of Life of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Comorbid with Dementia: A Pilot Study

Preethy S. SAMUEL

Eastern Michigan University, School of Social Work
Department of Health Care Sciences, Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Detroit, Michigan, USA
Received: 17-October-2020
Revised: 16-November-2020
Accepted: 20-November-2020
Online first: 21-November-2020


Introduction: Although individuals with intellectual/ developmental disabilities (I/DD) are living longer than in the past, they also are exposed to age-related changes in health and well-being. They are prone to acquire dementia that often manifests earlier and more frequently than in the general population. However, there is sparse knowledge on the daily challenges that affect the quality of life of the individuals with I/DD and comorbid dementia and their family caregivers.

Aim: This pilot study examined strengths and challenges of individuals with dual diagnoses of I/DD and dementia using the family quality of life (FQOL) framework.

Method: Cross-sectional data was gathered from a convenience sample of family caregivers using a web-based electronic survey.

Objectives: This study aims to identify the common and differential elements of the DLD (SLI) and LD through a quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Results: The variables of interest in this study were the levels of importance and satisfaction attributed to the nine FQOL domains, and overall FQOL. The mean level of importance was higher than the associated ratings of satisfaction in eight of the nine domains, with an overall importance mean of 4.15 and satisfaction mean of 3.28. Analysis of the open-ended comments indicated that the negative impact of social isolation, compound caregiving, and dynamically changing caregiving needs on overall FQOL was balanced by participants’ values and beliefs.

Results: A statistical analysis (Student’s t test) was conducted in order to compare the children in LD and DLD groups. The data obtained from this analysis along with LSA indicate that the language skills differ between the two groups in the following aspects: lexical, pragmatic, semantic, syntactic, morphological and phonological. Significant differences (p < .05) occur for the start of speech therapy age, phonological disorder, passive vocabulary and language psychological age. Results for active vocabulary did not indicate a statistical difference between LD and DLD children.

Implication for practice: The discrepancies in the FQOL domains pertaining to formal and informal services and social supports elucidate a need to empower families with high caregiving needs through research, practice and policy.

Conclusion Providers should be cognizant of the needs of individuals with I/DD and dementia comorbid, as well as the needs of their family caregivers.

Key words: Aging families, Caregiving, Dementia, Developmental Disability, Family quality of life, Intellectual Disability

Citation: Marsack-Topolewski, N. C., Samuel, S. P. Caregivers’ Perceptions of Family Quality of Life of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Comorbid with Dementia: A Pilot StudyJournal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities, 2020 Dec 25; 3(2): 56-70.

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Experiences of Family Caregivers of Individuals with ID and Dementia

Anna M. BRADY2

1Eastern Michigan University College of Health and Human Services,
School of Social Work, Michigan, USA
2Erskine College, Special Education Department, South Carolina, USA
Received: 04-May-2020
Revised: 28-May-2020
Accepted: 02-June-2020
Online first: 03-June-2020


Introduction: Dementia poses a number of impairments in cognitive functioning impacting everyday operational tasks and functions. Individuals with intellectual disability (ID) may experience dementia earlier and at a greater rate than the general population. Dementia can pose complex challenges for individuals with ID and their caregivers.

Aim: A qualitative phenomenological study was used to examine the lived experiences of caregivers of individuals diagnosed with both ID and dementia.

Method: Individual interviews were conducted among six participants, who were all family caregivers of individuals diagnosed with both ID and dementia.

Results: Based on the results from the content analysis of interview responses, four themes emerged: (a) difficulty getting a dementia diagnosis, (b) barriers to obtaining services, (c) caregiving realities and challenges, and (d) rewards of caregiving.

Implications for Practice: To support caregivers, practitioners should be adequately trained on this dual diagnosis to assess the support needs in helping caregivers obtain adequate services.

Conclusion: As individuals with ID continue to live longer and age, many will experience dementia. Caregivers of individuals with ID and dementia are often an overlooked, vulnerable population. Practitioners should be aware of their needs in order to provide adequate support to this caregiving population and individuals with ID and dementia.

Key words: caregiving, dementia, intellectual disability, developmental disabilities

Citation: Marsack-Topolewski, N. C., Brady, M. A. Experiences of Family Caregivers of Individuals with ID and Dementia. Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities, 2020 Jul 05; 3(1):54-64.

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