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Young-onset dementia (YOD) has a profound impact on spouses. However, little is known on how the quality of the relationship changes over time in YOD. This study aims to determine how the quality of the relationship changes over time and identify predictors of this change.
This study used data from the NEEDs in Young onset Dementia (NeedYD) study. The primary outcome measure was the quality of the relationship perceived by spouses measured throughout 24 months. Baseline characteristics of persons with YOD and spouses were also measured to assess their predictive value.
Totally, 178 dyads were included. The perceived quality of the relationship deteriorated over time. A longer symptom duration, a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia, lower levels of awareness of deficits, lower levels of initiative toward daily living activities, and higher levels of apathy, hyperactivity, depression, and anxiety in the person with YOD were associated with a lower perceived quality of the relationship by spouses. A coping style characterized by palliative and passive reacting patterns and higher levels of neuroticism in spouses was also associated with a lower quality of the relationship.
The quality of the relationship as perceived by spouses deteriorated over time and was influenced by characteristics of the person with YOD as well as their spouse. Helping spouses to come to terms with factors that threaten their sense of couplehood might help them to develop a more positive attitude toward their spousal relationship and improve the quality of the relationship and care.
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.
Young Onset Dementia (YOD), defined by first symptoms of cognitive or behavioral decline occurring before the age of 65 years, is relatively rare compared to dementia of later onset, but it is associated with diagnostic difficulty and heavy burden on affected individuals and their informal carers. Existing health and social care structures rarely meet the needs of YOD patients. Internet-based interventions are a novel format of delivering health-related education, counseling, and support to this vulnerable yet underserved group.
The RHAPSODY (Research to Assess Policies and Strategies for Dementia in the Young) project is a European initiative to improve care for people with YOD by providing an internet-based information and skill-building program for family carers. The e-learning program focuses on managing problem behaviors, dealing with role change, obtaining support, and looking after oneself. It will be evaluated in a pilot study in three countries using a randomized unblinded design with a wait-list control group. Participants will be informal carers of people with dementia in Alzheimer's disease or behavioral-variant Frontotemporal degeneration with an onset before the age of 65 years. The primary outcome will be caregiving self-efficacy after 6 weeks of program use. As secondary outcomes, caregivers’ stress and burden, carer health-related quality of life, caring-related knowledge, patient problem behaviors, and user satisfaction will be assessed. Program utilization will be monitored and a health-economic evaluation will also be performed.
The RHAPSODY project will add to the evidence on the potential and limitations of a conveniently accessible, user-friendly, and comprehensive internet-based intervention as an alternative for traditional forms of counseling and support in healthcare, aiming to optimize care and support for people with YOD and their informal caregivers.
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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