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2008 Grants - Reinhardt
Enhancing Life Quality for Residents with End-Stage Dementia and Families
Joann Reinhardt, Ph.D.
The Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged
New York, New York
2008 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
The chronic and progressive physical and cognitive decline of people with end-stage dementia means that their families must regularly make treatment decisions, such as whether to hospitalize their loved one or give them a feeding tube, without adequate knowledge or support. Many nursing homes routinely use technology to keep people with advanced dementia alive, even though much literature recommends not doing so. Research is needed to document the positive effects of optimal end-of-life care for people with dementia and their families.
Joann Reinhardt, Ph.D., and colleagues will conduct a six-month study of palliative care for people with end-stage dementia in nursing homes. Palliative care is an interdisciplinary approach that maximizes the physical and psychosocial comfort of the person with dementia and their family, with care being tailored for each specific case.
A palliative care team will consult with the family and friends of the person with dementia to determine their goals for care and to offer support. A second group of people will receive regular care, though they will receive an increased amount of social contact with staff to control for any benefit from the greater interaction with staff that the palliative care group receives. Researchers will interview family members three times during the study and will have access to the person with dementia's medical records.
The researchers expect that the palliative care group will report that their relative with dementia had better control of symptoms and received fewer burdensome treatments than the control group. They also expect that the family themselves will report greater satisfaction with their relative's care and less depressive symptoms compared to the other group's family.