Claudia Miranda explains informal care at the UNAB Scientific Conference

Captura de pantalla de Claudia Miranda en conferencia virtual junto a Gabriel León.
What is informal care and what is its status in Chile? Is there scientific evidence on this? Learn the answers to these questions in this article based on the presentation of MICARE Director Claudia Miranda, at the 8th UNAB Scientific Culture Conference.

By Gabriela Campillo.

“Informal care of elderly people in Chile: evidence and pending challenges”, was the title of the talk given by Dr. Claudia Miranda, director of our MICARE Institute and academic of Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB), as part of the 8th UNAB Scientific Culture Conference.

The activity took place virtually on July 7, 2021, and was broadcast live on YouTube, along with scientist and communicator Gabriel León.

What is informal care?

Informal care is when a person, usually a family member or friend, provides assistance and support to another person with some degree of dependency, without financial remuneration and usually without formal training.

It’s a complex, multifactorial phenomenon involving several stakeholders: the elderly person, the caregiver, the family, the community, and the institutions.

‘When researching informal care we must collect the caregivers’ own experience and voice, their perceptions, and the subjectivity behind it. This is of the utmost importance’.

Claudia Miranda, MICARE director.
Foto que muestra de espaldas a una mujer de mediana edad ayudando a caminar a un hombre mayor, en un parque.
What is the profile of informal carers in Chile?

There is no abundance of evidence in this regard, as our director Claudia Miranda explains, but there are things we do know:

  • The majority of informal caregivers are women, with an average age of 56 years.
  • 44.5% are the daughters or sons of the people they care for, and 33.6% are their partners
  • 43.4% have completed primary education or less, and only 15.4% have completed higher education. 
  • Only one-third of caregivers report having a paid job.

Women: main carers of people with dementia

“There are currently estimated to be about 250,000 people with dementia, and we know that behind these people are families,” says MICARE’s director, warning that this prevalence is on the rise.

This reality has a high social cost.

Approximately 70% of caregivers of people with dementia are informal carers, mostly married women, daughters of the person they care for, and who also perform other care tasks in parallel.

Foto de las manos de una mujer sentada junto a otras personas en un grupo de apoyo.
How can we improve caregivers’ quality of life?

The scarcity of social support, negative effects on mental health, and high work overload are some examples of the impact of caregiving on informal caregivers.

To address this problem, the director of MICARE lists some psychosocial interventions that have been shown to produce positive effects:

  • Respite time (replacement of caregiving duties)
  • Psychoeducation
  • Training and management of behavioral and psychological symptoms of the person with dementia
  • Case management by professionals who monitor the needs of the “caregiver/cared-for person” dyad and refer to appropriate health care services
  • Support groups
  • Psychotherapy, among others.

‘It is essential, pandemic or not, to develop and implement evidence-based psychosocial interventions to provide a better quality of life for both people. A timely and appropriate intervention would generate lower costs for the health and social systems‘.

Claudia Miranda, MICARE director.
Relive the full presentation here:

Want to know more? We invite you to read more in this article published by Universidad Andrés Bello.