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Aging (Milano). 1995 Oct;7(5):371-8.

Different kinds of services and informal support in the daily life activities in a community-based elderly population.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Göteborg University, Sweden.


As part of the well-known population study of 70-year olds in Gothenburg, 1239 persons at the age of 70 were invited to participate in an extensive investigation and Inter-Vention program of the Elderly in Gothenburg (IVEG). The probands were examined at the ages of 70, 73 and 76 years. The purpose of this study is to describe different kinds of services and informal support in the daily life activities among three large groups of people in their seventies. A cross-sectional study design was chosen in order to get as large groups as possible. A home call was made by an experienced occupational therapist, who interviewed and observed the probands' performance in the daily life activities. The probands and their relatives were asked about the extent of different services and informal support. Personal and home assistance care given by relatives almost doubled between the age of 70 and 76 years. Help organized by the Social Welfare Services only increased marginally. Of the personal activities of daily living (ADL), getting in/out of a bathtub was the activity that caused most problems. The most common walking aid was a stick or a crutch, while use of a wheelchair was quite uncommon. Between the age of 70 and 76 years, the use of the Handicap Transport Service more than doubled. This study shows that at the age of about 73 years the elderly should be offered formal support, such as the supply of assistive devices. What is noteworthy is that the help from relatives and friends increased much more than the help from the Social Welfare Services between the age of 70 and 76 years. At present, relatives and friends assist the elderly in their homes to a large extent, and frequently. Relatives are doing an important job for their elderly and for society, and should be given every possible kind of public support and relief in order to have the strength to continue.

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