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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.
We studied the patient and non-patients factors of inappropriate psychotropic drug (PD) prescription for neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) in nursing home patients with severe dementia.
In a cross-sectional study, the appropriateness of prescriptions was explored using the Appropriate Psychotropic drug use In Dementia (APID) index sum score. This index assesses information from medical records on indication, evaluation, dosage, drug–drug interactions, drug–disease interactions, duplications, and therapy duration. Various measurements were carried out to identify the possible patient and non-patient factors. Linear multilevel regression analysis was used to identify factors that are associated with APID index sum scores. Analyses were performed for groups of PDs separately, i.e. antipsychotics, antidepressants, anxiolytics, and hypnotics.
The sample consisted of 338 patients with a PD prescription that used 147 antipsychotics, 167 antidepressants, 85 anxiolytics, and 76 hypnotics. It was found that older patients and more severe aggression, agitation, apathy, and depression were associated with more appropriate prescriptions. Additionally, less appropriate prescriptions were found to be associated with more severe anxiety, dementia diagnoses other than Alzheimer dementia, more physician time available per patient, more patients per physician, more years of experience of the physician, and higher nurse's workload.
The association of more pronounced NPS with more appropriate PD prescriptions implies that physicians should pay more attention to the appropriateness of PD prescriptions when NPS are less manifest. Non-patient-related factors are also associated with the appropriateness of PD prescriptions. However, especially considering that some of these findings are counter-intuitive, more research on the topic is recommended.
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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