Assessment of Family Functionality Among the Elderly With Chronic Illness

Claudia Balula Chaves, Odete Pereira Amaral, Paula Alexandra Nelas, Emilia Carvalho Coutinho, Rui Manuel Dionisio


The family APGAR scale was developed by Smilkstein, Ashworth, and Montano (1982). The satisfaction assessment of the elderly with chronic illness regarding family is essential. This study aims to describe the socio-demographic and clinical profile of elderly people with chronic illness and correlate with perceived family support. This is a cross-sectional, analytical study of 294 elderly people (51.4% female), patients at the Health Centre in the district of Viseu - Portugal, diagnosed with chronic illness (77.9% cardiovascular); Mean age was 72.22 ± 6.13, 70.7% were married and 52% had 4 years of schooling; Data was gathered using a questionnaire and the Family APGAR (Adaptation, Partnership, Growth, Affection and Resolve). In relation to family functionality, 18.7% perceive families as highly functional, 26.9% mildly dysfunctional and 54.4% severely dysfunction. There is a statistically significant relationship between the family APGAR and the presence of chronic illness (p < 0.001). We found no statistical significance between the family APGAR and gender (p = 0.26), age (p = 0.26), marital status (p = 0.32) and educational level (p = 0.28). Economic, political and social changes in our society has an impact on the family and the support they provide which is manifested among vulnerable groups, as is the case of an elderly person with chronic illness. Thus, we propose specialised psychological support for this age group which is more vulnerable and without the needed support from within the family.


family functionality; elderly; chronic illness