Dementia Patients Likely to Receive Intense Treatment at End-of-Life

Posted on Monday, August 26, 2019 1:06 PM

New research shows that nursing home residents with advanced dementia are more likely to receive burdensome interventions rather that palliative or hospice care at the end of their life, especially among male patients.  Researchers examined nursing home records from more than 27,000 patients who were diagnosed with end stage dementia who died between June 2010 and March 31, 2015.  The average age of death was 88 years old.

This population has a limited life expectancy, and they often receive very aggressive treatments instead of comfort-based care. 

“This suggests that these nursing home residents with advanced dementia are not necessarily perceived as having a terminal condition in the same way a cancer patient might be, and because of that they are not receiving optimal palliative care,” said Nathan Stall, M.D., a physician researcher at ICES in Toronto and lead author of the study. “When you ask physicians or family caregivers for people who have advanced dementia, more than 90% of them will strongly favor palliative care as the direction that care should take. There is clearly a huge opportunity here to try and avoid these burdensome interventions and to be able to authorize palliative care for these individuals towards the end of life.”

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