Advanced cognitive impairment among older nursing home residents

Gracner, Tadeja; Stone, Patricia W.; Agarwal, Mansi; Sorbero, Mark; Mitchell, Susan L.; Dick, Andrew W.

Though work has been done studying nursing home (NH) residents with either advanced Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or Alzheimer’s disease related dementia (ADRD), none have distinguished between them; even though their clinical features affecting survival are different. In this study, we compared mortality risk factors and survival between NH residents with advanced AD and those with advanced ADRD.

This is a retrospective observational study, in which we examined a sample of 34,493 U.S. NH residents aged 65 and over in the Minimum Data Set (2011–2013). Incident assessment of advanced disease was defined as the first MDS assessment with severe cognitive impairment (Cognitive Functional Score equals to 4) and diagnoses of AD or ADRD. Demographics, functional limitations, and comorbidities were evaluated as mortality risk factors using Cox models. Survival was characterized with Kaplan-Maier functions.

Of those with advanced cognitive impairment, 35 % had AD and 65 % ADRD. At the incident assessment of advanced disease, those with AD had better health compared to those with ADRD. Mortality risk factors were similar between groups (shortness of breath, difficulties eating, substantial weight-loss, diabetes mellitus, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pneumonia; all p < 0.01). However, stroke and difficulty with transfer (for women) were significant mortality risk factors only for those with advanced AD. Urinary tract infection, and hypertension (for women) only were mortality risk factors for those with advanced ADRD. Median survival was significantly shorter for the advanced ADRD group (194 days) compared to the advanced AD group (300 days).

There were distinct mortality and survival patterns of NH residents with advanced AD and ADRD. This may help with care planning decisions regarding therapeutic and palliative care.


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December 20, 2022


Advanced cognitive impairment, End-of-Life, Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Survival