Dementia is one of the prominent conditions for which an aging population has been seeking end-of-life solutions such as assisted dying. Individuals with dementia, however, are often unable to meet the eligibility criteria of being mentally competent and are thus discriminated against in relation to assisted dying laws. Provided that the assisted death directive is being made in sound mind, it is still of concern whether these advance directives can be appropriately framed and safeguarded to protect the wish of these vulnerable individuals while preventing harm. Therefore, to establish consensus views of experts on primary issues of, and concerns about, assisted dying for individuals with dementia as well as exploring tentative conceptual framework to safeguard practice and application, a three-round Delphi study was conducted. A core group of 12 experts from five countries was recruited comprising expertise in domains relevant to assisted dying and dementia. A semantic-thematic approach was applied to analyze the 119 generated statements. Evaluation of these research statements resulted in full consensus of 84 (70%) items. Our primary findings highlight seven core domains: applicability of assisted dying for dementia; ethical, practical, and pathological issues regarding the application of assisted dying; and ethical, legal, and professional recommendations for the ways forward. Despite the issues surrounding the provision of assisted death for individuals with dementia, our findings lead us to cautiously conclude that devising "adequate" safeguards is achievable. The result of this research may benefit future research and practice.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: acute hospitalization may be an ideal opportunity to introduce palliative care to dementia patients, who may benefit from symptom management and goals of care discussions. We know little about patients who receive inpatient palliative care consultations (IPCCs).
DESIGN: Retrospective analysis using electronic medical record.
SETTING: Tertiary academic medical center and affiliated community hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients with dementia by International Classification of Diseases diagnosis, 65 years or older, hospitalized between July 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015.
MEASUREMENTS: We used 2 and t -test/Mann-Whitney U test to compare characteristics (living arrangement, advanced dementia markers, diagnoses of delirium and dementia with behavior disturbance, and admitting diagnosis) and outcomes (change in code status, length of stay [LOS], discharge disposition, and discharge medications for symptom management) of patients who did and did not receive IPCC. Patients were matched on sex, age, and race.
RESULTS: Among 927 hospitalized patients with dementia, 17% received IPCC (N = 157). Patients who received IPCC were more likely to be admitted from a nursing facility (35.7% vs 12.7%; P < .0001), experience delirium (71.3% vs 57.3%; P = .01), have behavior disturbance (23.6% vs 13.4%; P = .02), have a pressure ulcer at admission (26.1% vs 11.5%; P = .001), have hypernatremia (12.7% vs 3.2%; P = .002), and be bedbound (20.4% vs 3.2%; P < .000). Patients who received IPCC had a longer LOS (median = 5.9 vs 4.3 days; P = .004) and were more likely to be discharged to hospice (56% vs 3.1%; P < .0001). Patients with IPCC were more likely to have a discharge code status of do not attempt resuscitation (89% vs 46%). There was no significant difference in comfort medications at discharge between groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients who received IPCC had evidence of more advanced dementia. These patients were more likely to change their code status and enroll in hospice. IPCC may be useful to prioritize patient-centered care and discuss what matters most to patients and families.
BACKGROUND: End of life care is often inadequate for people with dementia. Advanced care planning (ACP) has the potential to improve outcomes for people with dementia. The aim of this review is to establish the strength of the evidence and provide decision makers with a clear understanding of what is known about ACP for people living with dementia.
DESIGN: Evidence synthesis including systematic reviews and primary studies. PROSPERO registration: CRD42018107718.
DATA SOURCES: PubMed, CINAHL Plus, SCOPUS, Social Care Online and Cochrane Library were searched (July 2018). No year limit applied. To be included, reviews had to evaluate effectiveness of ACP for people with dementia or report on views and experiences of ACP from the perspective of people with dementia, carers, or health and care professionals. Additional searches (September 2018) were conducted to identify recent primary studies not included in the reviews.
REVIEW METHODS: Data extraction was undertaken by one reviewer and checked by a second. Methodological quality was assessed using AMSTAR-2 and Joanna Briggs Institute instruments by two authors independently. Outcomes were categorized and tabulated to assess effectiveness. Qualitative data was analysed using thematic synthesis.
RESULTS: Nineteen reviews (163 unique studies) and 11 primary articles with a range of advance care planning definitions and of variable quality were included. Advance care planning was associated with decreased hospitalizations, increased concordance between care received and prior wishes and increased completion of advance care planning documents but quality of primary research was variable. Views of ACP for people with dementia can be clustered around six themes; 1) timing and tailoring, 2) willingness to engage, 3) roles and responsibilities of healthcare professionals, 4) relationships, 5) training and 6) resources needed. Diminishing decision-making capacity over time is a key overarching feature.
CONCLUSIONS: Advance care planning is acceptable for people with dementia and their carers and is associated with improved outcomes. Guidelines on which outcomes and which definition to use are necessary, as is research to test different approaches to ACP. Education on topics related to diminishing decision-making capacity is key to optimize advance care planning for people with dementia and their carers.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: I review ethical and legal challenges for end of life (EOL) care in dementia. Is access to hospice care for dementia patients impacted by Medicare's terminal prognosis requirement? Are dementia-specific advance directives warranted? How does state legislation affect dementia patients' EOL options? Should dementia patients' be able to refuse orally ingested food and fluids by advance directive?
RECENT FINDINGS: The difficulty of predicting time to death in dementia inhibits access to Medicare hospice benefits. Efforts have been made to create dementia-specific advance directives. Advance refusal of artificial nutrition and hydration are common, but the issue of oral ingestion of food and fluids by dementia patients remains controversial. Medicare's hospice benefit should be made more accessible to dementia patients. State advance directive threshold definitions should be broadened to include dementia, and capacitated persons who refuse in advance orally ingested food and fluids should have their choices honored.
OBJECTIVES: Our aim was to (1) describe the clinical characteristics and symptoms of people diagnosed with dementia at the time of admission to inpatient palliative care; and (2) compare the nature and severity of these palliative care–related problems to patients with other chronic diseases.
DESIGN: Descriptive study using assessment data on point of care outcomes (January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2018).
SETTING: A total of 129 inpatient palliative care services participating in the Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 29,971 patients with a primary diagnosis of dementia (n = 1,872), lung cancer (n = 19,499), cardiovascular disease (CVD, n = 5,079), stroke (n = 2,659), or motor neuron disease (MND, n = 862).
MEASUREMENTS: This study reported the data collected at the time of admission to inpatient palliative care services including patients' self-rated levels of distress from seven common physical symptoms, clinician-rated symptom severity, functional dependency, and performance status. Other data analyzed included number of admissions, length of inpatient stay, and palliative care phases.
RESULTS: At the time of admission to inpatient palliative care services, relative to patients with lung cancer, CVD, and MND, people with dementia presented with lower levels of distress from most symptoms (odds ratios [ORs] range from .15 to .80; P < .05 for all) but higher levels of functional impairment (ORs range from 3.02 to 8.62; P < .001 for all), and they needed more assistance with basic activities of daily living (ORs range from 3.83 to 12.24; P < .001 for all). The trends were mostly the opposite direction when compared with stroke patients. Patients with dementia tended to receive inpatient palliative care later than those with lung cancer and MND.
CONCLUSION: The unique pattern of palliative care problems experienced by people with dementia, as well as the skills of the relevant health services, need to be considered when deciding on the best location of care for each individual. Access to appropriately trained palliative care clinicians is important for people with high levels of physical or psychological concerns, irrespective of the care setting or diagnosis.
The Dutch Supreme Court this week ruled that a doctor may act on a previously written euthanasia request and end the life of a patient who, because of advanced dementia, can no longer express their wishes.
Doctors must, however, still adhere to criteria of care for euthanasia practice if they are to avoid prosecution. These, enshrined in the 2002 law, include that the patient is suffering “hopelessly and unbearably” and that the request is “voluntary and well considered,” meaning that the patient must be competent when the request was made.
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BACKGROUND: In Switzerland as in many countries, steady trend is observed in nursing homes to promote writing of advanced directives (ADs). Implementation of ADs reflects the rise in public concern for the persons' right to self-determination and informed decision. The issue of end-of-life conditions is particularly acute in situations with dementia. This article investigates how ADs interventions in nursing homes strive simultaneously to behave in line with the principles of care ethics and with the intention to respond to legally binding instructions. Healthcare to dying residents with dementia in nursing homes is interpreted in light of the Regulation theory.
METHODS: Nursing home palliative care reference nurses were contacted through questionnaire. One hundred twenty-one addresses were reached, 69 responses were collected, giving a response rate of 57%. In order to deepen the understanding, 10 semi-directive interviews were conducted in 10 different nursing facilities with 12 palliative nurses.
RESULTS: Presently, Swiss nursing homes are lacking a model of AD suitable to people with dementia. The study sheds light on dissimilarities in the purpose assigned to ADs' procedure in the different facilities. Discrepancies in end-of-life care practices reveal more the influence of structural and organisational devices specific to each setting than conflicting views on end-of-life care principles. We analyse the interpretation of the Law and its implementation in the participating NHs as compromises that could be accounted for as a form of social regulation.
CONCLUSION: Dementia accentuates the uncertainty inherent to end-of-life trajectories. The implementation of standardised procedures aimed at collecting the wishes of the person deprived of his or her discernment is source of dissonances with regard to the multiple interests involved in these care situations. In this context, the drafting of ADs during end-of-life care in NH correspond to new normative constraints requiring new collective regulation actions.
End-of-life decision-making in patients with dementia is a complex topic. Belgium and the Netherlands have been at the forefront of legislative advancement and progressive societal changes concerning the perspectives toward physician-assisted death (PAD). Careful consideration of clinical and social aspects is essential during the end-of-life decision-making process in patients with dementia. Geriatric assent provides the physician, the patient and his family the opportunity to end life with dignity. Unbearable suffering, decisional competence, and awareness of memory deficits are among the clinical considerations that physicians should incorporate during the end-of-life decision-making process. However, as other societies introduce legislature granting the right of PAD, new social determinants should be considered; Mexico City is an example. Current perspectives regarding advance euthanasia directives (AED) and PAD in patients with dementia are evolving. A new perspective that hinges on the role of the family and geriatric assent should help culturally heterogeneous societies in the transition of their public health care policies regarding end-of-life choices.
Purpose: We studied the prevalence of medications of questionable benefit in the last 6 months of life among older nursing home residents with and without dementia in Germany.
Methods: a retrospective cohort study was conducted on claims data from 67,328 deceased nursing home residents aged 65+ years who were admitted between 2010 and 2014. We analyzed prescription regimens of medications of questionable benefit in the 180–91-day period and the 90-day period prior to death for residents with dementia (n = 29,052) and without dementia (n = 38,276). Factors associated with new prescriptions of medications of questionable benefit prior to death were analyzed using logistic regression models among all nursing home residents and stratified by dementia.
Results: A higher proportion of nursing home residents with dementia were prescribed at least one medication of questionable benefit in the 180–91-day (29.6%) and 90-day (26.8%) periods prior to death, compared with residents without dementia (180–91 days, 22.8%; 90 days, 20.1%). Lipid-lowering agents were the most commonly prescribed medications. New prescriptions of medications of questionable benefit were more common among residents with dementia (9.8% vs. 8.7%). When excluding anti-dementia medication, new prescriptions of these medications were more common among residents without dementia (6.4% vs. 8.0%). The presence of dementia (odds ratio [OR] 1.40, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] 1.32–1.48) and excessive polypharmacy were associated with new prescriptions of medications of questionable benefit prior to death (OR 4.74, 95%CI 4.15–5.42).
Conclusion: even when accounting for anti-dementia prescriptions, the prevalence of nursing home residents with dementia receiving medications of questionable benefit is considerable and may require further attention.
Patients with dementia may be discharged from hospice if their condition stabilizes. The loss of professional support and an already complex grief process needs careful attention. A live discharge presents a unique experience for each hospice patient, caregiver, and hospice team, which varies from traditional bereavement theories used to describe the grieving process. This article explores live discharge from hospice for caregivers of adults with dementia through a theoretical lens of Symbolic Interactionism (SI) and Attachment Theory (AT). The theories of SI and AT support and assist in understanding the experience of caregivers who lose hospice support due to ineligibility. In addition, caregivers watch the gradual deterioration and psychological loss of someone with dementia while they remain alive described as an ambiguous loss. Ambiguous loss as a subset of traditional bereavement theories provides a framework for this exploration and provides a relevant illustration of the complex needs. This article will conclude with implications for social work practice. It is important for hospice clinicians to be aware of current termination practices necessary to manage appropriate attachments, support the symbolic meaning of the hospice experience, validate the ambiguous losses, and maintain a sense of hope through a live discharge from hospice.
Objectives: Family caregivers of people with dementia can experience loss and grief before death. We hypothesized that modifiable factors indicating preparation for end of life are associated with lower pre-death grief in caregivers.
Setting: Caregivers of people with dementia living at home or in a care home.
Participants: in total, 150 caregivers, 77% female, mean age 63.0 (SD = 12.1). Participants cared for people with mild (25%), moderate (43%), or severe dementia (32%).
Measurements: Primary outcome: Marwit-Meuser Caregiver Grief Inventory Short Form (MMCGI-SF). We included five factors reflecting preparation for end of life: (1) knowledge of dementia, (2) social support, (3) feeling supported by healthcare providers, (4) formalized end of life documents, and (5) end-of-life discussions with the person with dementia. We used multiple regression to assess associations between pre-death grief and preparation for end of life while controlling for confounders. We repeated this analysis with MMCGI-SF subscales (“personal sacrifice burden”; “heartfelt sadness”; “worry and felt isolation”).
Results: only one hypothesized factor (reduced social support) was strongly associated with higher grief intensity along with the confounders of female gender, spouse, or adult child relationship type and reduced relationship closeness. In exploratory analyses of MMCGI-SF subscales, one additional hypothesized factor was statistically significant; higher dementia knowledge was associated with lower “heartfelt sadness.”
Conclusion: We found limited support for our hypothesis. Future research may benefit from exploring strategies for enhancing caregivers’ social support and networks as well as the effectiveness of educational interventions about the progression of dementia.
Purpose of the review: To identify and assess factors that affect the decisions to initiate advance care planning (ACP) amongst people living with dementia (PwD).
Methods: A narrative review was conducted. A keyword search of Medline, CINAHL PsycINFO, and Web of Sciences databases produced 22,234 articles. Four reviewers independently applying inclusion/exclusion criteria resulted in 39 articles. Discrepancies were settled in discussion.
Results: Twenty-eight primary studies and eleven review articles remained. Narrative analysis generated five categories of facilitating and inhibitory factors: people with dementia, family orientation, healthcare professionals (HCP), systemic and contextual factors, and time factors. Key facilitators of ACP initiation were (i) healthcare settings with supportive policies and guidelines, (ii) family members and HCPs who have a supportive relationship with PwD, and (iii) HCPs who received ACP education. Key inhibitors were: (i) lack of knowledge about the dementia trajectory in stakeholders, (ii) lack of ACP knowledge, and (iii) unclear timing to initiate an ACP.
Conclusion: This review highlighted the main challenges associated with optimal ACP initiation with PwD. To encourage effective ACP initiation with PwD, succinct policies and guidelines for clinical commissioners are needed. ACP also needs to be discussed with family members in an informal, iterative manner. More research is required on initiation timing given the disease trajectory and changing family dynamics.
Family caregivers of people with dementia often must make crucial medical decisions for them that may increase the burden of care experienced. Although undertaking Advance Care Planning (ACP) might reduce their decision-making burden, completion rates remain very low. The present study aimed to explore the common beliefs of family caregivers of people with dementia about undertaking ACP for themselves. A qualitative study was conducted, using a semi-structured questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behavior. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of 20 family caregivers of people with dementia in Israel. The behavioral beliefs expressed by the participants referred to the dual benefits of ACP, for the person who will not be able to make medical decisions at the end of life and for themselves. Participants mentioned that family members and friends were the main persons with whom they would consult in making decisions regarding ACP. Personal characteristics and instrumental factors were mentioned as enablers and barriers to undertaking ACP. Findings from the study provide an important basis for expanding research and for developing interventions that can encourage undertaking ACP.
Dementia management is complicated by neuropsychiatric symptoms such that the longitudinal care of a psychiatrist or other mental health provider is often an essential part of patient care and a major source of family support. Given the importance of end-of-life continuity of care, the involvement of psychiatry in palliative and hospice services affords an important opportunity for growth. Common challenges involve sharing prognostic information with patients and families to aid in advance planning, and management of persistent pain and nutritional issues. Future research will yield important new insights and guidelines for care.
In the current ecology of care, social, rather than medical, support is critical in enabling frail older people to live at home. This paper reports findings from a qualitative study about how home care workers (HCWs) support persons with dementia living in the community. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were carried out in England with 14 family care-givers (FCGs) recruited from a single private home care provider. A thematic analysis of the data was undertaken using the constant comparative method. In every instance, it was FCGs who initiated domiciliary care for the person with dementia, highlighting ambiguity about who is the ‘client’. Rather than focusing on the HCWs’ work in undertaking practical tasks and personal care, respondents prioritised HCWs as companions, providing emotional and social support for their relatives. From an organisational perspective, respondents valued the capacity of the provider to deliver a consistent, personal, reliable and punctual service. These attributes were important in supporting their relative's agency and dignity. Respondents described HCWs engaging in skilled and sensitive communication with clients but considered ‘character’ and ‘innate’ caring abilities to be more important than those derived from training. The results highlight the need to acknowledge the family, rather than the individual client, as the functioning unit of care, and to recognise the highly skilled communicative and emotional work undertaken by HCWs.
Community health-care services for older, home-dwelling persons with dementia tend to be underutilised. Family care-givers provide substantial care, and they often arrange for and co-ordinate health-care services on behalf of persons with dementia. The aim of this study was to examine family care-givers’ knowledge of unused services and their self-reported reasons for non-use of such services. We gathered cross-sectional survey data from 430 family care-givers of older persons with dementia in Northern Norway. Multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to identify predictors of family care-givers’ knowledge of unused services. An open-ended question regarding reasons for non-use of services was analysed by thematic text analysis. Characteristics of family care-givers (e.g. education level) and factors related to the care-giving circumstances (e.g. negative impact of care-giving) predicted family care-givers’ knowledge of unused services. Reasons for non-use of services were multifaceted and complex, and were related to attributes of the person with dementia and/or the family care-giver (e.g. reluctance to use services) and/or the health-care services (e.g. low quality). Although services were unused, several family care-givers indicated substantial needs for the services. Strategies aimed at addressing the non-use of services should emphasise individuals’ and families’ needs and the adaptation of information about available services and their benefits for both care recipients and family care-givers. A relationship-centred care approach is thus recommended in dementia care.
BACKGROUND: Since people with advanced dementia are usually not able to make complex decisions, it is usually the family caregivers, as proxies, who have to decide on treatments and their termination. However, these decisions are difficult for the caregivers to make, as they are often inadequately informed and cannot properly assess the consequences; moreover, they are concerned about harming the sick person. We aimed to first develop an informative booklet about palliative care issues for caregivers of people with advanced dementia. Secondly, we aimed to investigate a change in family caregivers' knowledge regarding palliative care issues and caregivers' involvement in medical and care decisions before and after studying this booklet.
METHODS: A first version of the booklet was drafted by an experienced psychiatrist and palliative care specialist based on existing booklets and guidelines; necessary cultural adaptions were taken into consideration. A nominal group process was conducted to develop the informative guide. In order to investigate the acceptance of the booklet and the possibility to implement it, 38 patient-caregiver dyads were recruited, and caregivers were interviewed both before receiving the booklet and after 3 months of receiving the booklet.
RESULTS: Experts from various disciplines collaborated on a German booklet for family caregivers of people with advanced dementia as an information aid regarding issues of palliative care. The subsequent test showed that all caregivers had experienced a personal benefit from the booklet. Caregivers had a significant gain of knowledge after provision of the booklet. A large proportion of caregivers who had not previously considered and/or discussed medical topics reported that they had done so within 3 months after obtaining the booklet, or planned to do so in the near future.
CONCLUSIONS: The caregivers valued the comprehensible, concise and well-structured information guide on palliative care issues in advanced dementia. They agreed it increases knowledge and prompts decision making and therefore should be developed in many languages and disseminated among family caregivers of people with dementia.
OBJECTIVES: Advance care planning in young-onset dementia largely remains a blind spot within current literature. This study aimed to explore the engagement in and the conceptualization of advance care planning from the perspective of family caregivers of persons with young-onset dementia and to identify potential similarities and differences in this area between American and Belgian persons with young-onset dementia and their family caregivers.
DESIGN: An exploratory qualitative study.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: We purposively sampled adult family caregivers of persons with young-onset dementia; our respondents were 13 American and 15 Belgian caregivers with varying familial relationships to the patient.
METHODS: We conducted 28 semi-structured interviews, using the same interview guide for American and Belgian respondents. Verbatim transcripts were analysed through the method of constant comparative analysis.
RESULTS: Important similarities between American and Belgian respondents were restricted knowledge of advance care planning, limited communication about advance directives, and their recommendation for professionals to timely initiate advance care planning. Major differences were attention paid to those end-of-life decisions depicted in the legislature of their respective countries, American caregivers placed higher emphasis on financial planning than their Belgian peers, and, in the case of consulting professionals for advance directives, American caregivers turned to lawyers, whereas Belgian caregivers relied on physicians.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Specific nuances and challenges in terms of advance care planning in young-onset dementia arise from a particular societal and legal context on the one hand, and from patients' and caregivers' younger age on the other. Professionals' awareness of and responsiveness to these specificities could facilitate the advance care planning process. Based on our interpretation of results, several recommendations for practice and policy are made.
Background: In the United States, 45% of people enrolled in hospice have dementia. We know little about how hospice professionals facilitate preference-aligned end-of-life care for people with dementia (PWD) and their families.
Objective: To examine hospice stakeholders' perspectives on caring for PWD and their families.
Design: Multisite qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with interdisciplinary hospice clinicians, leaders, and administrators. The interdisciplinary team used the constant comparative method to identify, code, and characterize relevant themes.
Setting/participants: Four geographically distinct nonprofit U.S. hospice organizations. Fifty-one hospice employees: 61% clinical staff, 25% executive leaders, and 14% administrators.
Measurements: Interview domains included participants' practices of engaging patients/families in discussions of preferences for end-of-life care and professional opinions of changes over time. Cross-topic probes focused on delivering hospice care to PWD and their proxies/families.
Results: Four themes regarding caring for PWD in hospice. (1) Dementia prevalence in hospice is increasing and some hospices are developing programs to accommodate specific needs. (2) Setting impacts discussions of preferences and care decisions. (3) Caring for PWD on hospice poses unique challenges caused by (i) perceptions that dementia is not terminal, (ii) a lack of advance care planning discussions before hospice admission, and (iii) proxy decision-makers who were inadequately prepared for their role. (4) Hospice regulatory and policy changes disproportionately impact PWD.
Conclusions: Hospice professionals perceive increasing demand for, and multilevel challenges to, caring for PWD. Clinicians "upstream" from hospice may help by engaging patients and proxies in discussions of preferences for end-of-life care and providing anticipatory guidance.