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Int Psychogeriatr. 2015 Oct;27(10):1623-34. doi: 10.1017/S1041610214002713. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

Palliative care and quality of life for people with dementia: medical and psychosocial interventions.

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School of Aging Studies,University of South Florida,Tampa,Florida 34639,USA.
School of Nursing and Midwifery,University of Western Sydney,Sydney,Australia.



Despite mounting evidence that principles of palliative care are appropriate in care for individuals with dementia they are often not applied. As a result, patients with dementia are often exposed to burdensome interventions that have little or no benefit and are not provided with psychosocial treatments.


Recommendations for applying palliative care principles in caring for people with dementia are provided, based on the WHO definition of palliative care, our clinical experience and some key literature reports.


People with a diagnosis of an irreversible dementia such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and their families are rarely informed that this is a terminal disease and palliative care principles are not discussed with them. They are applicable early in the course of illness when the person can still make end-of-life decisions. Palliative care can be used in conjunction with other therapies and services, such as hospice care that provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms. The care should include keeping people with dementia involved in meaningful activities which decrease or eliminate behavioral symptoms of dementia.


Educating families and professionals about palliative care is important as many professionals and non-professionals believe that this approach intends to hasten death, instead of affirming life and regarding dying as a normal process. Living, not just existing, with a dementing illness involves encouraging the person to continue to be involved in meaningful activities. Medical interventions should be compatible with goals of care and balance benefits and burdens for each intervention taking into consideration severity of dementia.


activities; behavior; caregiver; dementia; pain; palliative care

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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