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People with young-onset dementia (YOD) living in nursing homes may experience poor quality of life (QoL) due to advanced dementia, high prevalence of neuropsychiatric symptoms and psychotropic drug use. However, the course of QoL in institutionalized people with YOD and factors that predict this course are unclear. This knowledge could help health professionals identify appropriate interventions to improve QoL in YOD.
To explore the course of QoL in institutionalized people with YOD and resident-related predictors of that course.
Secondary analyses were conducted with longitudinal data from the Behavior and Evolution in Young-ONset Dementia (BEYOND)-II study. A total of 278 people with YOD were recruited from 13 YOD special care units in the Netherlands. QoL was measured by the proxy assessment of Quality of Life in Dementia (QUALIDEM) questionnaire at four assessments over 18 months. Independent variables included age, gender, dementia subtype, length of stay, dementia severity, neuropsychiatric symptoms and psychotropic drug use at baseline. Multilevel modeling adjusted for correlation within nursing homes and residents was used to determine the course and predictors of QoL.
The total QUALIDEM score (range: 0–111) decreased over 18 months with a statistically significant decline of 0.73 points per six months. A significant increase of QoL over time was seen in the subscales “Care relationship”, “Positive self-image”, and “Feeling at home”. However, a significant decline was observed in the subscales “Positive affect”, “Social relations”, and “Something to do”. Residents’ course of QoL was positively associated with the baseline scores of the QoL, age and longer duration of stay; however, being male, having advanced dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and high rates of neuropsychiatric symptoms at baseline were negatively associated with the course of QoL
Longitudinal changes in QoL in residents with YOD were small over 18 months and QUALIDEM subscales showed multidirectional changes. The largest QoL decline in the subscale “Positive affect” suggests that interventions should be targeted to improve positive emotions, in particular for male residents with neuropsychiatric symptoms and advanced dementia.
Extreme neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) can be a heavy burden for nursing home (NH)-residents, relatives and caregivers. When conventional treatments are ineffective or have intolerable side effects, extreme NPS can be considered refractory. In these situations, continuous palliative sedation (CPS) is sometimes administered. We explored the trajectory leading to CPS and its application in NH-residents with dementia and refractory NPS.
A qualitative interview study was performed in 2017. Relatives, elderly care physicians and other staff members involved with three NH-residents with dementia and extreme refractory NPS who received CPS were interviewed. These NH-residents lived on dementia special care units of three NHs in the Netherlands. We used consecutive sampling to select participants. Medical files were studied. Semi-structured interviews were conducted. Transcriptions were analyzed with thematic analysis, including directed content analysis.
Nine in-depth interviews with fourteen participants were held. Analysis resulted in five main themes with several subthemes reflecting phases of the trajectory leading to CPS and the CPS application itself, a sixth main theme concerned evaluations thereof. According to the first theme (run-up), the suffering of the NH-resident was described as unbearable/an inner struggle. Participants still had hope for improvement. Concerning the second theme (turning point), hope was lost, participants were convinced they had tried everything and experienced feelings of powerlessness and failure. Regarding theme three (considering CPS), intermittent sedation was applied in all three cases and peer consultation was employed. Honoring the wish of the NH-resident and therapeutic uncertainties, among others, were important subthemes. According to theme four (decision to start CPS), in each case one specific aspect was a decisive trigger for administering CPS. Concerning theme five (applying CPS) feelings of relief were experienced after starting with CPS.
The trajectory leading up to CPS in NH-residents with dementia and extreme refractory NPS was complex and burdensome, but the application led to relief and contentment of all those involved. We recommend to include external consultation in the decision process and to apply intermittent sedation as a preceding step when CPS is considered.
The Act in case of Depression program showed effects on the quality of life and depression in nursing home (NH) residents. We aimed to explore the effects of this complex multidisciplinary program on job satisfaction, job demands, and autonomy in nursing home staff.
Four data points from a stepped-wedge cluster-randomized trial on patient outcomes were used for secondary analyses on staff outcomes.
Sixteen dementia special care and 17 somatic care units in Dutch NHs.
Participants were 717 (90.1%) care staff or trainees, 34 (4.3%) paramedical staff, and 45 (5.7%) other staff members.
Intervention describes procedures for nursing staff, activity therapists, psychologists, and physicians. It contains evidence-based pathways for depression assessment, treatment, and monitoring treatment results.
Mixed models for intention-to-treat analyses showed no significant changes in job demands, job satisfaction, or autonomy. Models corrected for the ratio of unit residents who received, when indicated, a specific program component revealed reduced job demands and improved job satisfaction and autonomy when treatment procedures were used. A better use of assessment procedures was associated with increased job demands, while conducting monitoring procedures was associated with increased job demands and decreased autonomy.
Components of complex care programs may affect the staff outcomes in opposite directions and, taken together, produce a zero-sum or a statistically insignificant effect. While implementing treatment protocols affecting patients directly can also improve job outcomes such as satisfaction and autonomy and decrease job demands, it is possible that other procedures of complex programs may have unfavorable effects on job outcomes. It is important to account for specific components of complex interventions when evaluating intervention effects.
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.
To explore the aspects of daily life that give people with young-onset dementia (YOD) a sense of usefulness.
Eighteen people with YOD and 21 informal caregivers participated in this qualitative study. Participants were recruited from specialized day-care centers for people with YOD in the Netherlands. Four focus groups were conducted with people with YOD, and four with informal caregivers. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using inductive content analysis.
Four themes emerged from the analysis: (1) staying engaged, (2) loss in daily life, (3) coping and adaptation, and (4) external support. Staying engaged in activities that provide a sense of usefulness or participating in leisure and recreational activities as much as possible in daily life emerged as the key theme. Retaining a sense of usefulness was considered both important and possible by having social roles or participating in functional activities. The importance of activities providing a sense of usefulness seemed to decrease over time, while the need for pleasant activities seemed to increase. Experienced loss, coping, adaptation, and available external support are important parts of the context in which the person with YOD tries to engage in daily life as much as possible. Active coping styles and external support appear to play a facilitating role in staying engaged.
It is important for people with YOD to have the opportunity to feel useful; especially in the early stages of the condition. Caregivers should be educated in ways to enhance a sense of usefulness and engagement in daily life for people with YOD.
Long-term care facilities have partly taken over the traditional asylum function of psychiatric hospitals and house an increasing group of patients with mental–physical multimorbidity (MPM). Little is known about the characteristics, behavior, and care dependency of these patients. This paper aims to describe these aspects.
Explorative, descriptive study among patients with MPM without dementia (n = 142), living in 17 geronto-psychiatric nursing home (NH) units across the Netherlands, stratified by those referred from mental healthcare services (MHS) and other healthcare services (OHS). Data collection consisted of chart review, semi-structured interviews, (brief) neuropsychological testing, and self-report questionnaires. Patients referred from MHS (n = 58) and from OHS (n = 84) were compared by descriptive statistics.
Despite exclusion of patients with dementia, the majority of participants had cognitive impairment. Prevalence and severity of frontal impairment were high, as well as the number of patients with clinically relevant neuropsychiatric symptoms. MHS patients were younger, had more chronic psychiatric disorders, and more often used antipsychotics. Neuropsychiatric symptoms, domains of care dependency, physical conditions and concomitant medication use differed not significantly between the subgroups.
Both groups of patients with MPM showed heterogeneity in various aspects but differed not significantly regarding the consequences of their multimorbidity. In a variety of characteristics, this group seems to be different from other NH patient groups, which requires extra knowledge and skills of the staff. To uncover which knowledge and skills are necessary, the next step should be to investigate the specific care needs of NH patients with MPM without dementia.
Our aim was to describe physicians' perceptions of the suffering of their patients who are dying with dementia, many of whom are incompetent with regard to decision making and have difficulty with communicating about the source of their distress and with identifying related factors.
We analyzed data from the nationally representative observational Dutch End-of-Life in Dementia (DEOLD) cohort study (2007–2011), which involved 34 long-term care facilities. A total of 103 physicians completed questionnaires about 330 patients with dementia who had died in a participating facility. Suffering during the last six hours of life was defined as “a patient being disturbed by or aware of symptoms,” “suffering until the end or death was a struggle”—all related to objective indicators of lack of comfort. We employed generalized estimating equation models to assess associations of suffering with the characteristics of physicians and patients, the patient's death, and the decision-making process.
In 13.8% of cases, the physician felt that the patient had suffered. An unexpected death and death with pneumonia were strongly (an odds ratios close to 6) associated with suffering, and suffering was also independently associated with the physician's perception of worse quality of end-of-life care, death with cardiovascular disease, a less experienced physician, no palliative sedation, and a younger patient.
Significance of Results:
Most patients with dementia did not suffer during their final hours of life, according to their physicians. There are a number of factors associated with suffering, among them death with pneumonia and unexpected death. We may not be able to have much influence on death from pneumonia, but quality of care and an unexpected death are reasonable targets for intervention. Earlier identification of the beginning of the dying process would allow time to better prepare for approaching death, which would provide a source of comfort.
People with dementia may benefit from palliative care which specifically addresses the needs of patients and families affected by this life-limiting disease. On behalf of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC), we recently performed a Delphi study to define domains for palliative care in dementia and to provide recommendations for optimal care. An international panel of experts in palliative care, dementia care or both, achieved consensus on almost all domains and recommendations, but the domain concerning the applicability of palliative care to dementia required revision.
To examine in detail, the opinions of the international panel of 64 experts around the applicability of palliative care, we explored feedback they provided in the Delphi process. To examine which experts found it less important or less applicable, ordinal regression analyses related characteristics of the panelists to ratings of overall importance of the applicability domain, and to agreement with the domain's four recommendations.
Some experts expressed concerns about bringing up end-of-life issues prematurely and about relabeling dementia care as palliative care. Multivariable analyses with the two outcomes of importance and agreement with applicability indicated that younger or less experienced experts and those whose expertise was predominantly in dementia care found palliative care in dementia less important and less applicable.
Benefits of palliative care in dementia are acknowledged by experts worldwide, but there is some controversy around its early introduction. Further studies should weigh concerns expressed around care receiving a “palliative” label versus the benefits of applying palliative care early.
Young-onset dementia (YOD) is defined as dementia that develops before the age of 65 years. The prevalence and type of neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) in YOD differ from patients with late onset dementia. NPS in dementia patients are often treated with psychotropic drugs. The aim of this study was to investigate psychotropic drug use (PDU) in Dutch community-dwelling YOD patients and the association between age, gender, dementia etiology and severity, symptoms of depression, disease awareness, unmet needs, and type of NPS.
Psychotropic drug use in 196 YOD patients was registered. Drugs were categorized according to the Anatomical Therapeutical Chemical classification. The association between age, gender, dementia type, dementia stage, type of NPS, depressive symptoms, disease awareness, and amount of unmet needs on total PDU was analyzed using binomial logistic regression analysis.
Fifty-two percent of the patients were prescribed at least one psychotropic drug; 36.2% of patients used one drug, and 12.2% used two different drugs. Antidepressants (36.2%) and antipsychotic drugs (17.3%) were the most frequently prescribed psychotropic drugs. Anti-dementia drugs were prescribed in 51.5% of the patients. Increasing age and moderate to severe depressive symptoms were positively associated with the total use of psychotropic drugs.
Community-dwelling YOD patients have a high prevalence of PDU. More research is needed to study the association between unmet needs, NPS, and PDU, and psychosocial interventions have to be developed to limit the use of psychotropic drugs in YOD.
Little is known about care needs in young-onset dementia (YOD) patients, even though this information is essential for service provision and future care planning.
We explored: (1) care needs of people with YOD, (2) the level of agreement within patient-caregiver dyads on care needs, and (3) the longitudinal relationship between unmet needs and neuropsychiatric symptoms.
A community-based prospective study of 215 YOD patients-caregiver dyads. Care needs were assessed with the Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly. The level of agreement between patient and caregivers’ report on care needs was calculated using κ coefficients. The relationship between unmet needs and neuropsychiatric symptoms over time, assessed with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory, was explored using linear mixed models.
Patients and caregivers generally agreed on the areas in which needs occurred. Only modest agreement existed within patient-caregiver dyads regarding whether needs could be met. Patients experienced high levels of unmet needs in areas such as daytime activities, social company, intimate relationships, and information, leading to an increase in neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Our findings indicate that in YOD, there are specific areas of life in which unmet needs are more likely to occur. The high proportions of unmet needs and their relationship with neuropsychiatric symptoms warrant interventions that target neuropsychiatric symptoms as well as the prevention of unmet needs. This underlines the importance of the periodic investigation of care needs, in which patient and caregiver perspectives are considered complementary.
Apathy is common in nursing home (NH) residents and it overlaps with depression. This study examines the effects of a multidisciplinary depression program on apathy and depressive motivational and mood symptoms.
Secondary analyses of a stepped-wedge cluster-randomized controlled trial were conducted with six measurements. Sixteen dementia NH units and 17 somatic units were enrolled. In the intervention condition, a program containing depression assessment procedures and multidisciplinary treatment (activating strategies, psychotherapy, and medication) was introduced. Usual care was provided in the control condition. Outcomes were assessed using the 10-item Apathy Evaluation Scale and the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia.
Intention-to-treat analyses showed that the whole depression management program reduced apathy in dementia units (p < 0.001; Cohen's d, −0.35), and depressive motivational symptoms in somatic units (p = 0.008; Cohen's d, −0.40). Depressive mood symptoms were not affected in both unit types. The effect on apathy in dementia units was mainly attributed to activating strategies (p < 0.001; Cohen's d, −0.73). The effect on motivational symptoms in somatic units was mainly attributed to psychotherapy (p = 0.002; Cohen's d, −0.80). Apathy worsening was associated with pharmacological depression treatment in both unit types (p = 0.009; Cohen's d, 0.35).
Depression management may affect apathy and depressive symptoms differently, which underpins the position of apathy as a distinct syndrome. NH professionals can effectively use activating strategies in dementia units, and psychotherapy in somatic units. More research is needed on treating depressive mood symptoms, and on effects of antidepressants in NHs.
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