New tool helps predict risk of death, admission to long-term care for people with dementia

April 20, 2020

A new tool that predicts risk of death and admission to a long-term care facility for patients with dementia may help conversations between health care providers, patients and their families, according to new research in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The recent tragic outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care homes highlight the need to have care discussions with residents and their caregivers.

"The majority of residents in long-term care homes have been diagnosed with dementia. Our study shows that the survival of many people with dementia is poor. It may be that many would choose care that focuses on comfort care and quality of life should they become acutely ill," says Dr. Peter Tanuseputro, a family physician and researcher with the Bruyère Research Institute, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and ICES, Ottawa, Ontario.

"We have developed a tool that asks simple questions about a person at the time of dementia diagnosis and translates it to the chance of dying and of entering a nursing home over the next 5 years. This information can be used in conversations about what to expect," says Dr. Tanuseputro. "For newly diagnosed dementia patients and their families, personalized information about their trajectory may be helpful to plan for the future, including advance care planning and planning for additional supports."

The study used linked data from ICES on more than 108 000 people living in the community in Ontario who were newly diagnosed with dementia from 2010 through 2012.

Researchers found that more than half of individuals (55%) died within 5 years -- comparable to many cancers -- and almost half of those who died (28%) lived in institutions. Only 1 in 4 people were still alive and living in the community 5 years after diagnosis.

Older age, male sex and presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure and kidney failure at the time of diagnosis of dementia were the most important factors that predicted death and admission to long-term care. The impact of organ failure on prognosis in people with dementia has not been well documented in other studies.

The researchers used data from the paper to develop an online dementia calculator

Dementia is a progressive, life-limiting illness, and personalized information about survival and potential transition into long-term care facilities like nursing homes can help patients and care providers with prognosis and planning. This is, however, not always done, perhaps partly because easily accessible tools have not been available. The global prevalence of dementia is increasing and is expected to triple by 2050.

"For patients, families and caregivers, these conversations can be difficult and too often they don't happen at all," says Dr. Tanuseputro. "If we can help patients and families understand what is likely to happen to their health, and what the next few years may hold, it can help with planning, perhaps provide some peace of mind, and ensure they maximize the quality of life remaining."

A related ICES infographic will be available on publication here

"Five-year risk of admission to long-term care home and death for older adults given a new diagnosis of dementia: a population-based retrospective cohort study" is published April 20, 2020.

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Related Dementia Articles from Brightsurf:

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients
Strong sleeping pills known as 'Z-drugs' are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia, according to new research.

The long road to dementia
Alzheimer's disease develops over decades. It begins with a fatal chain reaction in which masses of misfolded beta-amyloid proteins are produced that in the end literally flood the brain.

Why people with dementia go missing
People with dementia are more likely to go missing in areas where road networks are dense, complicated and disordered - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

PTSD may double risk of dementia
People who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are up to twice as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a new study by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

Building dementia friendly churches
A project to help church communities become more 'dementia friendly' has had a significant impact across the country.

A "feeling" for dementia?
A research team led by the DZNE concludes that personal perception can be an important indicator for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

New biomarker for dementia diagnosis
Medical researchers in the UK and Australia have identified a new marker which could support the search for novel preventative and therapeutic treatments for dementia.

Digital solutions for dementia care
Telehealth delivery of dementia care in the home can be as effective as face-to-face home visit services if carers and recipients take advantage of the technologies available, Australian researchers say.

Despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050 according to new Alzheimer Europe report
Today, at a European Parliament lunch debate, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.

Read More: Dementia News and Dementia Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to