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Dementia subtype and living well: results from the Improving the experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life (IDEAL) study

Yu-Tzu Wu, Linda Clare, John V Hindle, Sharon M Nelis, Anthony Martyr, Fiona E Matthews
BMC Medicine 2018 September 11, 16 (1): 140
30200957

BACKGROUND: The heterogeneity of symptoms across dementia subtypes has important implications for clinical practice and dementia research. Variation in subtypes and associated symptoms may influence the capability to live well for people with dementia and carers. The aim of this study is to investigate the potential impact of dementia subtypes on the capability to live well for both people with dementia and their carers.

METHODS: The analysis was based on the 1283 dyads of community-dwelling people with dementia and carers in the Improving the experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life (IDEAL) project, a large cohort study in Great Britain. Capability to live well was defined using three measures: quality of life, life satisfaction and wellbeing. Structural equation modelling was used to investigate capability to live well in seven dementia subtypes: Alzheimer's disease (AD), Vascular dementia (VaD), mixed AD/VaD, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD), Lewy body dementia (LBD) and unspecified/other, accounting for dyadic data structure and adjusting for age and sex, type of relationship between person with dementia and their carer and the number of chronic conditions.

RESULTS: The major subtypes in this study population were AD (56%), VaD (11%) and mixed AD/VaD (21%). Compared to participants with AD, people with non-AD subtypes generally reported a lower capability to live well. Carers for people with PDD (- 1.71; 95% confidence interval (CI) - 3.24, - 0.18) and LBD (- 2.29; 95% CI - 3.84, - 0.75) also reported a lower capability to live well than carers for people with AD. After adjusting for demographic factors and comorbidity, PDD (- 4.28; 95% CI - 5.65, - 2.91) and LBD (- 3.76; 95% CI - 5.14, - 2.39) continued to have the strongest impact on both people with dementia and their carers.

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests a variation in capability to live well across dementia subtypes. It is important for care providers to consider different needs across subtypes. Health professionals who provide post-diagnostic support may need to pay more attention to the complex needs of people living with PDD and LBD and their carers.

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