Advanced dementia often plagued with distressing symptoms and critical care interventions

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The stages of advanced dementia are often plagued with intense and distressing symptoms as well as a variety of critical care interventions. Perhaps this information is not too awful surprising to clinicians and healthcare professionals; however, for families, understanding the end-stage realities of dementia can be the difference between a distressing and burdensome happening and a loving calm goodbye. Findings from a study reported in the October 14th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that often times end-stage dementia is associated with eating disorders and various infections. Out of the 323 patients with advance dementia in the study, 40% developed pneumonia, nearly half had a febrile episode, and nearly 85% suffered from eating problems during the 18 month period of observation. According to Susan L. Mitchel, MD, MPH, of the Hebrew Senior Life Institute for Aging Research in Boston, and colleagues, “…patients, families and healthcare providers must understand and be prepared to confront the end-stage of this disease, which is estimated to afflict more than 5 million Americans currently and is expected to afflict more than 13 million by 2050.” Click here to read an article from TIME that discusses this study more.

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