NYMC Faculty Publications

Unmet Needs for Assistance Related to Subjective Cognitive Decline Among Community-Dwelling Middle-Aged and Older Adults in the US: Prevalence and Impact on Health-Related Quality of Life

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International Psychogeriatrics

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Health Policy and Management


OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence of unmet needs for assistance among middle-aged and older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) in the US and to evaluate whether unmet needs were associated with health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

DESIGN: Cross-sectional.

SETTING: US - 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

PARTICIPANTS: Community-dwelling adults aged 45 years and older who completed the Cognitive Decline module on the 2015--2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System reported experiencing SCD and always, usually, or sometimes needed assistance with day-to-day activities because of SCD (n = 6,568).

MEASUREMENTS: We defined SCD as confusion or memory loss that was happening more often or getting worse over the past 12 months. Respondents with SCD were considered to have an unmet need for assistance if they sometimes, rarely, or never got the help they needed with day-to-day activities. We measured three domains of HRQOL: (1) mental (frequent mental distress, ≥14 days of poor mental health in the past 30 days), (2) physical (frequent physical distress, ≥14 days of poor physical health in the past 30 days), and (3) social (SCD always, usually, or sometimes interfered with the ability to work, volunteer, or engage in social activities outside the home). We used log-binomial regression models to estimate prevalence ratios (PRs). All estimates were weighted.

RESULTS: In total, 40.2% of people who needed SCD-related assistance reported an unmet need. Among respondents without depression, an unmet need was associated with a higher prevalence of frequent mental distress (PR = 1.55, 95% CI: 1.12-2.13, p = 0.007). Frequent physical distress and social limitations did not differ between people with met and unmet needs.

CONCLUSIONS: Middle-aged and older adults with SCD-related needs for assistance frequently did not have those needs met, which could negatively impact their mental health. Interventions to identify and meet the unmet needs among people with SCD may improve HRQOL.