Late-Dementia Suffering Often Unnecessary

Death Rate for Advanced Dementia Similar to Some End-Stage Cancers


Oct. 14, 2009 — Patients with advanced Alzheimer’s disease or other age-related dementias often suffer unnecessarily near the end of life probably because their condition is not recognized as fatal, researchers say.

The death rate among patients with advanced dementia in a newly published study was similar to that of patients with end-stage breast cancer or heart disease, lead researcher Susan L. Mitchell, MD, of Harvard Medical School’s Institute for Aging Research, tells WebMD.

One in four patients died within six months of recruitment, and slightly more than half died within 18 months.

Yet in their last months of life, Mitchell says far too many patients received burdensome medical treatments and far too few received adequate palliative treatments for pain and other common symptoms, such as shortness of breath and agitation.

Read more here.

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