Alone and confused: Community-residing older African Americans with dementia

Dorothy F. Edwards, John C. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Despite significant increases in the number of adults who live alone, little is known about adults with cognitive impairment who live without co-resident caregivers. In this study, we examined demographic, cognitive, and functional characteristics and service use patterns of a sample (N = 343) of older community-residing African Americans with dementia who were referred for assessment. Of this group, 52 percent (179) lived alone. Adults who lived alone were compared with those who had co-resident caregivers to determine differences in cognitive and functional status and formal service use. Comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment included diagnosis and staging of dementia, status evaluation of activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living, and informal and formal support. Adults living alone had significantly more caregivers than those with co-resident caregivers. Neighbors and friends were more common primary care providers for live-alone adults. A significant proportion of adults had inadequate care, given their cognitive and functional deficits. Although formal service use was low in both groups, live-alone adults were more likely to receive social services than were adults with a co-resident caregiver. Predictors of formal service use included the presence of a caseworker, Medicaid certification, mild dementia, and living alone. Our results indicate the need for better identification of, and supportive services for, older African Americans with dementia who live alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-506
Number of pages18
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Formal service use
  • Functional impairment


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