January 30, 2020
Predicting Life Expectancy in Dementia Patients

New survival predication table helps PCPs pinpoint dementia prognosis

How LTC providers can use the tool to enhance care plans

European researchers have developed a new method for predicting survival rate aſter dementia diagnosis. Using 4 simple patient characteristics, doctors can now calculate life expectancy with exceeding accuracy—and without an arduous evaluation process.

Published in the American Journal of Neurology, the study examined data from 50,000+ patients in 829 health centers and memory clinics across Sweden. Aſter a decade, experts found that the median post-diagnosis survival time for dementia was 5.1 years for women and 4.3 years for men. Common mortality predicators included higher age, gender (male), existence of other chronic conditions, medication use, living alone, and more.

“Three-year survival aſter dementia diagnosis can be predicted with good accuracy,” the study concludes. “The survival prediction tables developed in this study may aid clinicians and patients in shared decision-making and advance care planning.”

 

 

Calculate to communicate

Despite the study’s promising results, researchers remind us that the tool offers no guarantees. A prediction is just that—a prediction.

Still, the newly developed system may inspire important discussions among patients, their families and caregivers. At the point of diagnosis, long-term care providers can use the results to help shape a more appropriate care plan, especially when it comes to negotiating more specific (oſtentimes challenging) details.

“A tool like this can be an incentive to start such a conversation, which should be held before there are too many cognitive obstacles,” says Sara Garcia-Ptacek, one of the study’s researchers. “This conversation could be about where someone would prefer to live, at home or in other accommodations, or anything else that needs planning.”

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