Functional and clinical needs of older hospice enrollees with coexisting dementia

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2022 Nov 24. doi: 10.1111/jgs.18130. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The Medicare Hospice Benefit increasingly serves people dying with dementia. We sought to understand characteristics, hospice use patterns, and last-month-of-life care quality ratings among hospice enrollees with dementia coexisting with another terminal illness as compared to enrollees with a principal hospice diagnosis of dementia, and enrollees with no dementia.

METHODS: We conducted a pooled cross-sectional study among decedent Medicare beneficiaries age 70+ using longitudinal data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) (last interview before death; after-death proxy interview) linked to Medicare hospice claims (2011-2017). We used unadjusted and adjusted regression analyses to compare characteristics of hospice enrollees with coexisting dementia to two groups: (1) enrollees with a principal dementia diagnosis, and (2) enrollees with no dementia.

RESULTS: Among 1105 decedent hospice enrollees age 70+, 40% had coexisting dementia, 16% had a principal diagnosis of dementia, and 44% had no dementia. In adjusted analyses, enrollees with coexisting dementia had high rates of needing help with 3-6 activities of daily living, similar to enrollees with principal dementia (62% vs. 67%). Enrollees with coexisting dementia had high clinical needs, similar to those with no dementia, for example, 63% versus 61% had bothersome pain. Care quality was worse for enrollees with coexisting dementia versus principal dementia (e.g., 61% vs. 79% had anxiety/sadness managed) and similar to those with no dementia. Enrollees with coexisting dementia had similar hospice use patterns as those with principal diagnoses and higher rates of problematic use patterns compared to those with no dementia (e.g., 16% vs. 10% live disenrollment, p = 0.004).

CONCLUSIONS: People with coexisting dementia have functional needs comparable to enrollees with principal diagnoses of dementia, and clinical needs comparable to enrollees with no dementia. Changes to hospice care models and policy may be needed to ensure appropriate dementia care.

PMID:36420734 | DOI:10.1111/jgs.18130

Authors

Krista L Harrison
Irena Cenzer
Alexander K Smith
Lauren J Hunt
Amy S Kelley
Melissa D Aldridge
Kenneth E Covinsky