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2021 Feb 23

Int J Environ Res Public Health



Higher Prevalence of Dementia but No Change in Total Comfort While Dying among Nursing Home Residents with Dementia between 2010 and 2015: Results from Two Retrospective Epidemiological Studies.



Important policy developments in dementia and palliative care in nursing homes between 2010 and 2015 in Flanders, Belgium might have influenced which people die in nursing homes and how they die. We aimed to examine differences between 2010 and 2015 in the prevalence and characteristics of residents with dementia in nursing homes in Flanders, and their palliative care service use and comfort in the last week of life. We used two retrospective epidemiological studies, including 198 residents in 2010 and 183 in 2015, who died with dementia in representative samples of nursing homes in Flanders. We found a 15%-point increase in dementia prevalence (-value < 0.01), with a total of 11%-point decrease in severe to very severe cognitive impairment ( = 0.04). Controlling for residents' characteristics, in the last week of life, there was an increase in the use of pain assessment (+20%-point; < 0.03) but no change in total comfort. The higher prevalence of dementia in nursing homes with no change in residents' total comfort while dying emphasizes an urgent need to better support nursing homes in improving their capacities to provide timely and high-quality palliative care services to more residents dying with dementia.