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Older persons experiencing a longer length of stay (LOS) or delayed discharge (DD) may see a decline in their health and well-being, generating significant costs. This review aimed to identify evidence on the impact of cognitive impairment (CI) on acute care hospital LOS/DD. A scoping review of studies examining the association between CI and LOS/DD was performed. We searched six databases; two reviewers independently screened references until November 2019. A narrative synthesis was used to answer the research question; 58 studies were included of which 33 found a positive association between CI and LOS or DD, 8 studies had mixed results, 3 found an inverse relationship, and 14 showed an indirect link between CI-related syndromes and LOS/DD. Thus, cognitive impairment seemed to be frequently associated with increased LOS/DD. Future research should consider CI together with other risks for LOS/DD and also focus on explaining the association between the two.
Adults aged 75+ recruited from general practice registries in Cambridge, UK, in 1985.
A 39-item frailty index and 15-item neuropathological index were used to operationalize frailty and neuropathology, respectively. Dementia status was ascertained by clinical consensus at time of death. Relationships were evaluated using logistic regression models in participants with autopsy records (n = 183). Model fit was assessed using change in deviance. Population attributable fraction for frailty was evaluated in relation to dementia incidence in a representative sample of the survey participants (n = 542).
Participants with autopsy were 92.3 ± 4.6 years at time of death, and mostly women (70%). Average frailty index value at last survey before death was 0.34 ± 0.16. People with dementia (63% of the sample) were frailer, had lower MMSE scores, and a higher burden of neuropathology. Frailty and neuropathological burden were significantly and independently associated with dementia status, without interaction; frailty explained an additional 3% of the variance in the model. Assuming a causal relationship and based on population-attributable fraction analyses, preventing severe frailty (Frailty Index ≥ 0.40) could have avoided 14.2% of dementia cases in this population-based cohort.
In the very old, frailty contributes to the risk for dementia beyond its relationship with the burden of traditional dementia neuropathologies. Reducing frailty could have important implications for controlling the burden of dementia. Future research on frailty interventions should include dementia risk as a key outcome, public health interventions and policy decisions should consider frailty as a key risk factor for dementia, and biomedical research should focus on elucidating shared mechanisms of frailty and dementia development.
To assess the feasibility, reliability, and validity of the Pictorial Fit-Frail Scale (PFFS) among patients, caregivers, nurses, and geriatricians in an outpatient memory clinic.
A Canadian referral-based outpatient memory clinic.
Fifty-one consecutive patients and/or their caregivers, as well as attending nurses and geriatricians.
Participants (patients, caregivers, nurses, and geriatricians) were asked to complete the PFFS based on the patient’s current level of functioning. Time-to-complete and level of assistance required was recorded. Participants also completed a demographic survey and patients’ medical history (including the Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE], and Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment [CGA]) was obtained via chart review.
Patient participants had a mean age of 77.3±10.1 years, and average MMSE of 22.0±7.0, and 53% were female. Participants were able to complete the PFFS with minimal assistance, and their average times to completion were 4:38±2:09, 3:11±1:16, 1:05±0:19, and 0:57±0:30 (mins:sec) for patients, caregivers, nurses, and geriatricians, respectively. Mean PFFS scores as rated by patients, caregivers, nurses, and geriatricians were 9.0±5.7, 13.1±6.6, 11.2±4.5, 11.9±5.9, respectively. Patients with low MMSE scores (0–24) took significantly longer to complete the scale and had higher PFFS scores. Inter-rater reliability between nurses and geriatricians was 0.74, but it was lower when assessments were done for patients with low MMSE scores (0.47, p<0.05). The correlation between PFFS and a Frailty Index based on the CGA was moderately high and statistically significant for caregivers, nurses, and geriatricians (r=0.66, r=0.59, r=0.64, respectively), but not patients.
The PFFS is feasible, even among people with some slight cognitive impairment, though it may be less useful when patients with severe dementia administer it to themselves. Further, the PFFS may help inform clinicians about areas of concern as identified by patients, enabling them to contribute more to diagnostic and treatment decisions or helping with health tracking and care planning.
The Comprehensive Assessment of Neurodegeneration and Dementia (COMPASS-ND) cohort study of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) is a national initiative to catalyze research on dementia, set up to support the research agendas of CCNA teams. This cross-country longitudinal cohort of 2310 deeply phenotyped subjects with various forms of dementia and mild memory loss or concerns, along with cognitively intact elderly subjects, will test hypotheses generated by these teams.
The COMPASS-ND protocol, initial grant proposal for funding, fifth semi-annual CCNA Progress Report submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research December 2017, and other documents supplemented by modifications made and lessons learned after implementation were used by the authors to create the description of the study provided here.
The CCNA COMPASS-ND cohort includes participants from across Canada with various cognitive conditions associated with or at risk of neurodegenerative diseases. They will undergo a wide range of experimental, clinical, imaging, and genetic investigation to specifically address the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of these conditions in the aging population. Data derived from clinical and cognitive assessments, biospecimens, brain imaging, genetics, and brain donations will be used to test hypotheses generated by CCNA research teams and other Canadian researchers. The study is the most comprehensive and ambitious Canadian study of dementia. Initial data posting occurred in 2018, with the full cohort to be accrued by 2020.
Availability of data from the COMPASS-ND study will provide a major stimulus for dementia research in Canada in the coming years.
Misplacing objects is often reported as a clinically important symptom in dementia. Here we explored misplacing objects in relation to dementia type and stage in an online sample of individuals with dementia and their caregivers.
Participants were recruited from www.dementiaguide.com, a web-based tracker for common dementia symptoms. Users provided information about symptoms that they selected as important for monitoring. We analysed cross-sectional data from respondents who tracked at least three symptoms, which allowed for staging dementia severity.
Of 2,775 users with three-plus symptoms, 787 (28%) identified misplacing objects for symptom tracking. Misplacing objects was monitored by users across all stages of dementia, but was more prevalent in mild and severe dementia. Three common clinical subtypes of misplacing were investigated: lost & found (forgetting the location of items), hidden away (hiding items so others would not find them), and odd places (putting items in usual spots). Of the 787, 96% targeted lost & found, the most frequent type. Odd places (targeted in 56%) significantly increased with dementia severity (p < 0.001). Misplacing objects was most strongly associated with the symptoms of interaction with strangers (OR 4.60, 95% CI: 3.20-6.62), reading (3.68: 2.86-4.73), shopping (3.55: 2.73-4.61) and travel/vacationing (3.31: 2.54-4.31).
Misplacing objects was most often selected for tracking in mild and severe stages of dementia. As disease advances, misplacing more often reflects odd placement of objects rather than their simple loss. Misplacing objects may be a clinically important therapeutic target for improving patients’ quality of life and lessening caregiver burden.
How cognitive impairment and frailty combine to impact on older adults’ Quality of Life (QoL) is little studied, but their inter-relationships are important given how often they co-occur. We sought to examine how frailty and cognitive impairment, as well as changes in frailty and cognition, are associated with QoL and how these relationships differ based on employment status and social circumstances.
Using the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe data, we employed moderated regression, followed by simple slopes analysis, to examine how the relationships between levels of health (i.e., of frailty and cognition) and QoL varied as a function of sex, age, education, social vulnerability, and employment status. We used the same analysis to test whether the relationships between changes in health (over two years) and QoL varied based on these same moderators.
Worse frailty (b = −1.61, p < .001) and cognitive impairment (b = −0.08, p < .05) were each associated with lower QoL. Increase in frailty (b = −2.17, p < .001) and cognitive impairment (b = −0.25, p < .001) were associated with lower QoL. The strength of these relationships varied depending on interactions with age, sex, education, social vulnerability, and employment status. Higher social vulnerability was consistently associated with lower QoL in analyses examining both static health (b = −3.16, p < .001) and change in health (b = −0.66, p < .001).
Many predictors of QoL are modifiable, providing potential targets to improve older adults’ QoL. Even so, the relationships between health, cognition, and social circumstances that shape QoL in older adults are complex, highlighting the importance for individualized interventions.
Objective: Neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinoses are a heterogeneous group of inherited disorders in which abnormal lipopigments form lysosomal inclusion bodies in neurons. Kufs disease is rare, and clinical symptoms include seizures, progressive cognitive impairment, and myoclonus. Most cases of Kufs disease are autosomal recessive; however, there have been a few case reports of an autosomal dominant form linked to mutations within the DNAJC5 gene. Methods: We describe a family with Kufs disease in which the proband and three of her four children presented with cognitive impairment, seizures, and myoclonus. Results: Genetic testing of all four children was positive for a c.346_348delCTC(p.L116del) mutation in the DNAJC5 gene. The proband brain had an abundance of neuronal lipofuscin in the cerebral cortex, striatum, amygdala, hippocampus, substantia nigra, and cerebellum. There were no amyloid plaques or neurofibrillary tangles. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that the cholinergic neurons and cholinergic projection fibers were spared, but there was a profound loss of choline acetyltransferase within the caudate, putamen, and basal forebrain. This suggests a loss of choline acetyltransferase as opposed to a loss of the neurons. Conclusions: This report describes the clinical history of autosomal dominant Kufs disease, the genetic mutation within the DNAJC5 gene, and the neuropathological findings demonstrating depletion of choline acetyltransferase in the brain.
Online tools can be used by people with dementia and their caregivers to self-identify and track troubling symptoms, such as verbal repetition. We aimed to explore verbal repetition behaviors in people with dementia.
Participants were recruited via an online resource for people with dementia and their caregivers. Respondents were instructed to complete information about symptoms that are most important to them for tracking over time. In this cross-sectional study, we analyzed data pertaining to individuals with dementia who had at least three symptoms selected for tracking.
Of the 3,573 participants who began a user profile, 1,707 fulfilled criteria for analysis. Verbal repetition was identified as a treatment target in 807 respondents (47.3%). Verbal repetition was more frequent in individuals with mild dementia compared to those with moderate and severe dementia (57.2% vs. 36.0% and 39.9%, p < 0.01) and in those with Alzheimer's disease versus other dementias (65.2% vs. 29.7%, p < 0.001). Repetitive questioning was the most frequent type of verbal repetition (90.5% of individuals with verbal repetition). Verbal repetition was most strongly associated with difficulties operating gadgets/appliances (OR 3.65, 95%CI: 2.82–4.72), lack of interest and/or initiative (3.52: 2.84–4.36), misplacing or losing objects (3.25: 2.64–4.01), and lack of attention and/or concentration (2.62: 2.12–3.26).
Verbal repetition is a common symptom in people at all stages of dementia but is most commonly targeted for monitoring and treatment effects in its mild stage. Much research is required to further elucidate the underlying mechanisms and the effect of different treatment strategies.
Delirium is common and is commonly misdiagnosed, chiefly in being missed (Bhat and Rockwood, 2007). The consequences of misdiagnosis are often severe and wide ranging, affecting patients, caregivers, health professionals, and hospitals (Inouye et al., 2014). Many an older hospitalized person with delirium is trapped in the interface between psychiatry and the rest of medicine, and can too easily be caught in the tendentious battles between treating teams. Both researchers and policymakers have sought to improve this unacceptable state of affairs (Young et al., 2010; Tieges et al., 2015).
As Canada’s population ages, frailty – with its increased risk of functional decline, deterioration in health status, and death – will become increasingly common. The physiology of frailty reflects its multisystem, multi-organ origins. About a quarter of Canadians over age 65 are frail, increasing to over half in those older than 85. Our health care system is organized around single-organ systems, impairing our ability to effectively treat people having multiple disorders and functional limitations. To address frailty, we must recognize when it occurs, increase awareness of its significance, develop holistic models of care, and generate better evidence for its treatment. Recognizing how frailty impacts lifespan will allow for integration of care goals into treatment options. Different settings in the Canadian health care system will require different strategies and tools to assess frailty. Given the magnitude of challenges frailty poses for the health care system as currently organized, policy changes will be essential.
To guide development of public awareness and caregiver support resources for frontotemporal dementia (FTD) syndromes.
We used an online survey to explore their needs. The survey was self-administered by self-identified, English-speaking caregivers for patients with FTD in several countries.
Of 79 caregiver respondents, approximately half were caring for patients with behavioural variant FTD or semantic dementia. The most common initial symptoms were Changes in Thinking and Judgment. Half of the respondents identified “failure to recognize the early stage of illness as a dementia” as the most troublesome aspect. Accordingly, over 40% of respondents had difficulty obtaining an accurate diagnosis for the patient. Caregivers prioritized family counseling and the public educational message that dementia can affect young people.
The largest international survey of FTD caregivers to-date showed that support is needed for all family members adapting to the shock of early-onset dementia, and this may be most readily provided online.
Interest in vascular causes for cognitive impairment is increasing, in recognition that such causes are common, and possibly preventable. This has led to attempts to better define vascular dementia and its natural history. Several sets of criteria for the diagnosis of vascular dementia have been proposed. We provide a brief overview of the background to the initiation of a Canadian consensus conference, established by the Consortium of Canadian Centres for Clinical Cognitive Research (C5R) and report the conclusions reached at that conference. To date, no one set of criteria is demonstrably superior to another; we have therefore not endorsed any of the competing sets, nor have we recommended our own. Instead we suggest that empiric studies are required to establish valid criteria. A diagnostic checklist, which combines existing criteria and additional data, is attached for clinicians wishing to participate in such studies.
Since few studies have examined the effectiveness of therapies for subcortical vascular dementia, treatment guidelines are not available. Current patterns in the treatment of such dementias have not been studied.
To determine the practice patterns of Canadian specialists for the treatment of subcortical vascular dementia, and to survey their opinions regarding issues which are important in the design of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in this field.
National survey of all specialists certified in Neurology or Geriatric Medicine.
Of responding physicians (78%) prescribed antithrombotic therapy for patients with vascular dementia. Most begin treatment with aspirin 325 mg daily (64%). The next three most common initial treatments were; no pharmacotherapy (12%), aspirin 650 mg daily (11%), and aspirin 1300 mg daily (11%). If the dementia continued to progress despite initial therapy, the treatment options were more varied. Most specialists (69%) believed that an RCT to assess the efficacy of aspirin in vascular dementia is warranted. The majority (69%) also felt that serial neuroimaging would be required for participants in such a trial, with magnetic resonance imaging being cited most frequently (41%). The majority of specialists considered three years as the minimum durationb for such a trial.
Specialist physician practice patterns vary significantly for the treatment of patients with subcortical vascular dementia. Most physicians believe that an RCT testing the efficacy of aspirin in this condition is required. However, before such a trial can be conducted, many methodological difficulties need to be addressed.
We tested the efficacy and safety of linopirdine, a novel phenylindolinone, in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
A multicentre, randomized, double-blind, parallel group, placebo-controlled trial of linopirdine (30 mg three times per day or placebo). Patients (n = 382, 55% male, 98% Caucasian, age range 51-95 years) with mild or moderate Alzheimer's disease, of whom 375 received at least one treatment dose were analysed. There were no important differences between the groups at baseline.
No difference was seen in Clinical Global Impression scores between patients receiving placebo and those receiving linopirdine (n = 189). Small differences in the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-Cog) scores were seen throughout the study favouring linopirdine; at 6 months the ADAS-Cog scores were 20.2 (linopirdine) and 22.1 (placebo) p = 0.01.
This trial did not detect clinically meaningful differences in patients receiving linopirdine for 6 months, despite evidence of a small degree of improved cognitive function. Further studies may benefit from more sensitive tests of treatment effects in Alzheimer's disease.
Invited commentary for International Psychogeriatrics on Tieges Z, Stíobhairt A, Scott K, Suchorab K, Weir A, Parks S, Shenkin S and MacLullich A. Development of a smartphone application for the objective detection of attentional deficits in delirium. International Psychogeriatrics. 2015 Mar 6:1–12.
Societal aging is expected to impact the use of emergency medical services (EMS). Older adults are known as high users of EMS. Our primary objective was to quantify the rate of EMS use by older adults in a Canadian provincial EMS system. Our secondary objective was to compare those transported to those not transported.
We analysed data from a provincial EMS database for emergency responses between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010 and included all older adults (≥65 years) requesting EMS for an emergency call. We described EMS use in relation to age, sex, and resources.
There were 30,653 emergency responses for older adults in 2010, representing close to 50% of the emergency call volume and an overall response rate of 202.8 responses per 1,000 population 65 years and older. The mean age was 79.9±8.5 years for those 57.3% who were female. The median paramedic-determined Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) score was 3 and the mean on-scene time was 24.2 minutes. Non-transported calls (12.3%) for the elderly involved predominantly (54.9%) female patients of similar mean age (78.3 years) but lower acuity (CTAS 5) and longer average on-scene times (32.6 minutes).
We confirmed the increasingly high rate of EMS use with age to be consistent with other industrialized populations. The low-priority and non-transport calls by older adults consumed considerable resources in this provincial system and might be the areas most malleable to meet the challenges facing EMS systems.
The Consortium to Investigate Vascular Impairment of Cognition (CIVIC) is a Canadian, multi-centre, clinic-based prospective cohort study of patients with Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI). We report its organization and the impact of diagnostic criteria on the study of VCI.
Nine memory disability clinics enrolled patients and recorded their usual investigations and care. A case report form included all vascular dementia (VaD) individual criteria for each of four sets (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS-AIREN), Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnostic Treatment Centers (ADDTC), the ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders (ICD-10), and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)) of consensus-based diagnostic criteria and for the Hachinski Ischemia Score (HIS). Investigators, having completed the case report form, were asked to make a clinical judgement about the cognitive diagnosis based on the best available information, including neuroimaging.
Of 1,347 patients (mean age 72 years; 56% women), 846 (63%) were diagnosed with dementia and 324 (24%) were diagnosed with VCI. The proportion of patients diagnosed with VaD by the diagnostic criteria was: 23.9% (n=322) by DSM-IV, 10.2% (n=137) by HIS, 4.3% (n=58) by ICD-10, 3.8% (n=51) by ADTCC, and 3.6% (n=48) by NINDS-AIREN. Judged against a clinical diagnosis of VaD, the sensitivity/specificity of each was: DSM-IV (0.77/0.80); HIS (0.41/0.92); ICD-10 (0.29/0.98); ADTCC (0.24/0.98); NINDS-AIREN (0.42/0.995). Compared with a clinical diagnosis of VCI, sensitivities were lower for the diagnostic criteria, reflecting the exclusion of patients who did not have dementia.
Consensus-based criteria for VaD omit patients who do not meet dementia criteria that are modeled on Alzheimer’s disease. Even for patients who do, the proportion identified with VaD varies widely. Criteria based on empirical analyses need to be developed and validated.