Predicting Lifespans for Dementia Patients

Model gauges death risk for nursing home residents with advanced dementia

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TUESDAY, June 8, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A model to help predict the six-month death risk for people with advanced dementia living in nursing homes has been created by U.S. researchers.

Dr. Susan Mitchell of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School and her colleagues pinpointed factors associated with the risk of death among people with advanced dementia newly admitted to nursing homes.

They used this information to create their risk model, which shows a higher six-month death risk for people with more of the following factors: male, cancer, the need for oxygen therapy, congestive heart failure, shortness of breath, bowel incontinence, unstable condition, older than 83 years, not awake most of the day, no more than 25 percent of food eaten at most meals, and an Activities of Daily Living score of 28.

The research appears in the June 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This type of life expectancy information can be important in guiding end-of-life decision-making and determining a patient's eligibility for hospice admission, the researchers said.

"The risk score derived in this study offers a practical approach for estimating with reasonable accuracy the six-month prognosis of older nursing home residents with advanced dementia," the study authors write.

More information

The National Women's Health Information Center has more about dementia.

SOURCE: American Medical Association, news release, June 8, 2004

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