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Br Med Bull. 2010;96:159-74. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldq024. Epub 2010 Jul 30.

Palliative care for people with dementia.

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  • 1Research Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College Medical School, Hampstead Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London, UK.


The number of people with dementia will rise dramatically over the next 20 years. Currently, one in three people over the age of 65 will die with dementia. A PubMed search using MeSH headings for 'dementia' AND 'palliative care' and for specific areas, i.e. enteral feeding. National reports, UK guidelines and policies were also consulted. Advanced dementia is now being perceived as a 'terminal illness' with a similar symptom burden and prognosis to advanced cancer. People with dementia have poor access to good quality end-of-life care. Interventions such as antibiotics, fever management policies and enteral tube feeding remain in use despite little evidence that they improve quality of life or other outcomes. Research is required on the effectiveness of 'holistic' palliative care, outcome measures and the impact on carers and families.

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