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The aim of this study was to investigate survival time and life-expectancy in people with young-onset dementia (YOD) and to examine the relationship with age, sex, dementia subtype and comorbidity.
Design, Setting and Participants:
Survival was examined in 198 participants in the Needs in Young-onset Dementia study, including participants with Alzheimer’s dementia (AD), vascular dementia (VaD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
The primary outcomes were survival time after symptom onset and after date of diagnosis. Cox proportional hazards models were used to explore the relationship between survival and age, sex, dementia subtype and comorbidity. Additionally, the impact on remaining life expectancy was explored.
During the six-year follow-up, 77 of the participants died (38.9%), 78 participants survived (39.4%) and 43 were lost to follow-up (21.7%). The mean survival time after symptom onset and diagnosis was 209 months (95% CI 185-233) and 120 months (95% CI 110-130) respectively. Participants with AD had a statistically significant shorter survival compared with VaD participants, both regarding survival after symptom onset (p = 0.047) as well as regarding survival after diagnosis (p = 0.049). Younger age at symptom onset or at diagnosis was associated with longer survival times. The remaining life expectancy, after diagnosis, was reduced with 51% for males and 59% for females compared to the life expectancy of the general population in the same age groups.
It is important to consider the dementia subtype when persons with YOD and their families are informed about the prognosis of survival. Our study suggests longer survival times compared to other studies on YOD, and survival is prolonged compared to studies on LOD. Younger age at symptom onset or at diagnosis was positively related to survival but diagnosis at younger ages, nevertheless, still diminishes life expectancy dramatically.
Children of patients with young onset dementia (YOD) who are confronted with a parent who has a progressive disease, often assist in caregiving tasks, which may have a great impact on their lives. The objective of the present study is to explore the experiences of children living with a young parent with dementia with a specific focus on the children's needs.
Semi-structured interviews with 14 adolescent children between the ages of 15 and 27 years of patients with YOD were analyzed using inductive content analysis. Themes were identified based on the established codes.
The emerging categories were divided into three themes that demonstrated the impact of dementia on daily life, different ways of coping with the disease, and children's need for care and support. The children had difficulties managing all of the responsibilities and showed concerns about their future. To deal with these problems, they demonstrated various coping styles, such as avoidant or adaptive coping. Although most children were initially reluctant to seek professional care, several of them expressed the need for practical guidance to address the changing behavior of their parent. The children felt more comfortable talking to someone who was familiar with their situation and who had specific knowledge of YOD and the available services.
In addition to practical information, more accessible and specific information about the diagnosis and the course of YOD is needed to provide a better understanding of the disease for the children. These findings underline the need for a personal, family-centered approach.
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