Background: Requests for physician-assisted death (PAD) in patients with cognitive impairment are complex and require careful consideration. Of particular difficulty is determination of whether the request is voluntary and well considered.
Results: Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) are both legal in The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Colombia, and Canada. Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, while PAS is legal in Switzerland and Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and California (USA). Upon a PAD request, evaluation of the capacity to consent medical treatment is relevant for the decision-making process, while evaluation of testamentary capacity is appropriate before an advance euthanasia directive is written. Anosognosia assessment throughout the Alzheimer's disease continuum provides essential and relevant information regarding the voluntary and well-considered nature of the PAD request; meanwhile, early assessment of hypernosognosia or subjective cognitive decline assists in formulation of a clinical prognosis. Furthermore, the assessment of physical and psychological suffering should incorporate verbal and nonverbal cues as well as consideration of the psychosocial factors that might affect due care criteria.
Conclusion: The clinical approach to a PAD request should consider the legal framework and the decision-making capacity, assess memory deficit awareness and the perception of suffering, and evaluate mental competency when considered pertinent.
ABSTRACT: Objectives:To examine factors that influence decision-making, preferences, and plans related to advance care planning (ACP) and end-of-life care among persons with dementia and their caregivers, and examine how these may differ by race.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.
SETTING: 13 geographically dispersed Alzheimer's Disease Centers across the United States.
PARTICIPANTS: 431 racially diverse caregivers of persons with dementia.
MEASUREMENTS: Survey on "Care Planning for Individuals with Dementia."
RESULTS: The respondents were knowledgeable about dementia and hospice care, indicated the person with dementia would want comfort care at the end stage of illness, and reported high levels of both legal ACP (e.g., living will; 87%) and informal ACP discussions (79%) for the person with dementia. However, notable racial differences were present. Relative to white persons with dementia, African American persons with dementia were reported to have a lower preference for comfort care (81% vs. 58%) and lower rates of completion of legal ACP (89% vs. 73%). Racial differences in ACP and care preferences were also reflected in geographic differences. Additionally, African American study partners had a lower level of knowledge about dementia and reported a greater influence of religious/spiritual beliefs on the desired types of medical treatments. Notably, all respondents indicated that more information about the stages of dementia and end-of-life health care options would be helpful.
CONCLUSIONS: Educational programs may be useful in reducing racial differences in attitudes towards ACP. These programs could focus on the clinical course of dementia and issues related to end-of-life care, including the importance of ACP.
Objectives: As key team members caring for people with advanced illness, nurses teach patients and families about managing their illnesses and help them to understand their options. Our objective was to determine if nurses' personal healthcare experience with serious illness and end-of-life (EOL) care differs from the general population as was shown for physicians.
Design: Observational propensity-matched cohort study.
Setting: Fee-or-service Medicare.
Participants: Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and a random 20% national sample of Medicare beneficiaries aged 66 years or older with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) or congestive heart failure (CHF) diagnosed in the hospital.
Measurements: Characteristics of care during the first year after diagnosis and the last 6 months of life (EOL).
Resuts: Among 57 660 NHS participants, 7380 had ADRD and 5375 had CHF; 3227 ADRD patients and 2899 CHF patients subsequently died. Care patterns in the first year were similar for NHS participants and the matched national sample: hospitalization rates, emergency visits, and preventable hospitalizations were no different in either disease. Ambulatory visits were slightly higher for NHS participants than the national sample with ADRD (13.1 vs 12.5 visits; P < .01) and with CHF (13.7 vs 12.5; P < .001). Decedents in the NHS and national sample had similar acute care use (hospitalization and emergency visits) in both diseases, but those with ADRD were less likely to use life-prolonging treatments such as mechanical ventilation (10.9% vs 13.5%; P = .001), less likely to die in a hospital with a stay in the intensive care unit (10.4% vs 12.1%; P = .03), and more likely to use hospice (58.9% vs 54.8%; P < .001). CHF at the EOL results were similar.
Conclusions: Nurses with newly identified serious illness experience similar care as the general Medicare population. However, at EOL, nurses are more likely to choose less aggressive treatments than the patients for whom they care.
L'ouvrage évoque l'accompagnement des personnes atteintes de la maladie d'Alzheimer. A partir de son expérience d'infirmière, l'auteure partage les témoignages des familles venues dans le centre d'accueil de jour qu'elle a ouvert. Des points de vue de neurologues et de neuropsychologues sont également présentés.
L'auteure a suivi durant huit mois la vie de neuf résidents d'un habitat collectif pour personnes âgées. Située dans la région lyonnaise, cette structure accueille des personnes atteintes de la maladie d'Alzheimer et de différents troubles psychiatriques. Les notes prises au jour le jour reflètent avec humour les soins et les difficultés qui caractérisent le quotidien de ces patients.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to assess laypersons' attitudes and completion of advance care planning (ACP) and to examine associations with sociodemographic characteristics and health beliefs on Alzheimer's disease.
METHODS: A cross-sectional telephone survey was conducted during April and May 2017, with a sample of 514 Israeli adults, aged 18 years and above. A structured, pretested questionnaire assessing participants' awareness, attitudes, and completion of ACP, as well as health beliefs on Alzheimer's disease (subjective knowledge, susceptibility, and worry), and sociodemographic factors, was used.
RESULTS: Two-fifths of the participants had heard of at least one of the terms: advance directives or durable power of attorney. Overall, participants expressed positive attitudes toward ACP. Results of regression models showed that gender, religiosity, and subjective knowledge of Alzheimer's disease were statistically significant correlates of attitudes toward ACP. Adding health beliefs on Alzheimer's disease doubled the amount of the variance explained, from 3% to 6%.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Our results support the use of cognitive models of health behavior by assessing intra-personal beliefs and knowledge to understand ACP attitudes and completion. Specifically, we demonstrated the importance of knowledge of Alzheimer's disease for ACP attitudes, suggesting the importance of including a module on the topic to ACP interventions.
Seven states have legalized physician-assisted death (PAD) for competent, terminally ill individuals; these criteria exclude persons with dementia (PWD). However, there is ethical and policy discussion around expanding access to PAD to people with Alzheimer disease (AD). Here, we present attitudes toward PAD of cognitively normal individuals enrolled in a clinical trial that required them to learn whether they have elevated amyloid-ß, a biomarker that increases risk for cognitive decline owing to AD.
The number of people living with Alzheimer disease and other dementias continues to grow because of the aging of the US population. Increasingly, the issue of patient- and/or surrogate-directed withholding of oral, hand-fed food and fluids in cases of late-stage dementia is confronting caregivers. Major media outlets have covered several cases wherein patients with explicit directives or clear surrogate decision making were not allowed to face the end of their lives according to their wishes. Ethical and legal scholars, as well as many end-of-life advocacy groups, are working to develop a framework and provide guidance in these cases. A local hospice organization was faced with these ethical deliberations when an activated proxy decision maker advocated for caregivers to stop hand feeding an incapacitated patient with end-stage dementia. In this article, this case is summarized, and this important ethical issue is presented in the setting of a literature review and nursing implications.
Aims: There is a lack of data on physical functional status near death of patients with different types of dementia that can contribute to decisions about what kind of care is needed. The aim of this study was to investigate the course of functional status along with the documented reasons for death in participants with dementia who had regularly been followed at a geriatric outpatient unit.
Setting and Design: A retrospective observational cohort study was done using the database of a geriatric outpatient clinic.
Subjects and Methods: Sociodemographic and medical records of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), vascular dementia, mixed dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)/Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD) who had received routine care in a geriatrics outpatient setting for a minimum of 12 months before death were analyzed. Scores for activities of daily living and documented probable causes of death were recorded.
Results: Of the 258 participants, 111 (42 female and 69 male) were included in this study. AD was the leading cause of dementia (51.8%). The median duration of survival with dementia was 4 years. The leading causes of death were cardiovascular disease (CVD) (27.0%) and dementia (27.0%) followed by infections (21.6%) and stroke (10.8%). Disability was the highest in patients with DLB/PDD.
Conclusions: This study found relatively shorter survival after the diagnosis of dementia when compared to other populations. CVD still appeared as a major cause of that in this particular disease. Most debilitating type of dementia was DLB/PDD.
OBJECTIVE: The study of predeath grief is hampered by measures that are often lengthy and not clearly differentiated from other caregiving outcomes, most notably burden. We aimed to validate a new 11-item Caregiver Grief Questionnaire (CGQ) assessing two dimensions of predeath grief, namely relational deprivation and emotional pain.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.
SETTING: Community and psychogeriatric clinics.
PARTICIPANTS: 173 Alzheimer (AD) caregivers who cared for relatives with different degrees of severity (63 mild, 60 moderate, and 50 severe).
MEASUREMENTS: Besides the CGQ, measures of caregiver burden and depressive symptoms, and care-recipients' neuropsychiatric symptoms and functional impairment were assessed.
RESULTS: Confirmatory factor analysis supported the hypothesized 2-factor over the 1-factor model, and both subscales were only moderately correlated with burden. Two-week test-retest reliabilities were excellent. Caregivers for mild AD reported less grief than those caring for more severe relatives. Z tests revealed significantly different correlational patterns for the two dimensions, with emotional pain more related to global burden and depressive symptoms, and relational deprivation more related to care-recipients' functional impairment. Both dimensions were mildly correlated with neuropsychiatric symptoms (especially disruptive behaviors and psychotic symptoms) of the care-recipient.
CONCLUSIONS: Results supported the reliability and validity of the two-dimensional measure of predeath grief. As a brief measure, it can be readily added to research instruments to facilitate study of this important phenomenon along with other caregiving outcomes.
In this narrative, a third-year medical student recounts an experience with a patient she had while accompanying hospice and palliative workers on home visits. It was a tragic scene to witness, but somehow she left with spirits light. The afternoon with this woman-who suffered from Alzheimer's Disease-stood out. The medical student still thinks about her to this day.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the patterns of end-of-life (EOL) health care for older Mexican-Americans with or without a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). Our objective was to investigate the frequency of acute hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) use, and ventilator use during the last 30-days of life for deceased older Mexican-American Medicare Beneficiaries with and without an ADRD diagnosis.
METHODS: We used Medicare claims data linked with survey information from 1,090 participants (mean age of death 85.1 years) of the Hispanic EPESE. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds for hospitalization, ICU use, and ventilator use in the last 30-days of life for decedents with ADRD compared to those without ADRD. Generalized linear models were used to estimate risk ratio for length of hospital stay (LOS).
RESULTS: Within the last 30-days of life, 64.5% of decedents had an acute hospitalization (59.1% ADRD, 68.3% no ADRD), 33.9% had an ICU stay (31.3% ADRD, 35.8% no ADRD), and 17.2% used a ventilator (14.9% ADRD, 18.8% no ADRD). ADRD was associated with significantly lower hospitalizations (OR=0.67, 95% CI=0.50-0.89) and shorter LOS (RR=0.77, 95% CI=0.65-0.90).
CONCLUSION: Hospitalization, ICU stay, and ventilator use are common at the end of life for older Mexican-Americans. The lower hospitalization and shorter LOS of decedents with ADRD indicate a modest reduction in acute care use. Future research should investigate the impact of EOL planning on acute-care use and quality of life in terminally ill Mexican-American older adults.
The potential for successful disease modifying treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD) opens up the possibility that there will be a large cohort of patients living with late-stage dementia and poor quality of life. There must thus be a parallel effort to leverage restorative therapies that improve quality of life in these patients. With the potential for stopping the onset of new patients with AD must come a commitment to those patients living with this chronic disability for many more years than first thought. Legal and ethical implications surrounding who makes decisions and equity in receiving care will become increasingly important if AD is no longer a terminal illness.
Hazel quitte Londres à 17 ans, où elle vivait avec sa mère, pour aller vivre en Australie avec son père qu’elle n’a jamais vu. C’est compliqué pour elle de se faire à sa nouvelle vie, à sa nouvelle maison, à créer une relation avec son père. Elle écrit régulièrement des lettres à sa mère qu’elle termine par « Je ne t’oublie pas ». Un jour sur la plage elle rencontre un garçon de son âge, Red, avec qui elle se lie d’amitié. Elle fait connaissance de son frère jumeau, Luca, avec qui la relation de prime abord est difficile, tant il est renfermé. Elle se lie aussi avec Maddie et Hunter, qui sont dans le même lycée qu’elle. Avec sa bande de 4, Hazel va retrouver une vie normale pour une fille de son âge, son insouciance et le sourire.
Patients with neurologic illnesses are commonly encountered by palliative care (PC) clinicians though many clinicians feel uncomfortable caring for these patients. Understanding how to diagnose, treat, communicate with, and prognosticate for neurology patients will improve the confidence and competence of PC providers in the neurology setting. This article offers PC providers 10 useful tips that neurologists with PC training think all PC providers should know to improve care for patients with neurologic illness.
Cette étude visait à mesurer et à comparer les attitudes de différents groupes du Québec face à l'idée d'étendre l'aide médicale à mourir à des personnes inaptes à y consentir d'elles-mêmes au moment de l'acte.
The purpose of this descriptive study was to identify whether meaning reconstruction was associated with indicators of bereavement adaptation in 66 spouses and adult child caregivers of person's with Alzheimer's disease. A cross-sectional mixed-methods design was used. Hierarchical regression models were used to examine whether meaning making predicted grief, depression, and positive and states of mind in the sample. Qualitative interviews were conducted to gain further knowledge about ways in which Alzheimer's disease caregivers construct meaning during bereavement. The majority of participants reported experiencing positive aspects of meaning reconstruction. Benefit-finding and identity change contributed to reductions in grief, and benefit-finding contributed to positive states of mind. Being a spouse and female gender contributed to increased grief and depression. Bereaved caregivers who are at risk for high levels of grief should be targeted for grief therapy interventions that foster meaning making.
There is hope that the continuing efforts of researchers will yield a disease-modifying drug for Alzheimer's disease. Such a drug is likely to be capable of halting, or significantly slowing, the underlying pathological processes driving cognitive decline; however, it is unlikely to be capable of restoring brain function already lost through the pathological process. A therapy capable of halting Alzheimer's disease, while not providing restoration of function, may prompt serious ethical questions. For example, is there a stage in the disease process when it becomes too late for therapeutic intervention to commence? And who bears the responsibility of making such a decision? Conversations regarding the ethics of treating neurodegenerative conditions with non-restorative drugs have been largely absent within both clinical and research communities. Such discussions are urgently required to ensure that patients' rights and well-being are protected when such therapeutic options become available.
Patients with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia with acute medical problems, who have lost capacity and are without advance directives, are at risk of being over treated inhospitals. To deal with this growing demographic and ethical crisis, patients with dementia need to plan for their future medical care while they have capacity to do so. This article will examine the role of each member of the dementia care triad and how to empower the patient to participate in planning future medical care. A case will be made that physicians have the same professional disclosure obligations to dementia patients as they do to all other capable patients with terminal illnesses. Because there is little consensus about what facts should be included in a diagnostic disclosure, this article will offer a proposal to empower newly diagnosed patients with dementia with capacity to plan for their future medical care.