Content of advance directives for individuals with advanced dementia

J Aging Health. 2008 Aug;20(5):583-96. doi: 10.1177/0898264308317822.


Objective: To examine how people with end-stage dementia have conveyed their wishes for end-of-life care in advance directives.

Method: The documents of 123 residents of three Maryland nursing homes, all with end-stage dementia, were reviewed.

Results: More years of education and White race were significantly associated with having an advance directive. With the exceptions of comfort care and pain treatment, advance directives were used primarily to restrict, not request, many forms of care at the end of life. Decisions about care for end-stage conditions such as Alzheimer's dementia are less often addressed in these documents than for terminal conditions and persistent vegetative state.

Discussion: For advance directives to better reflect a person's wishes, discussions with individuals and families about advance directives should include a range of care issues in the settings of terminal illness, persistent vegetative state or end-stage illness. These documents should be reviewed periodically to make certain that they convey accurately the person's treatment preferences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Advance Directive Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Advance Directives / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Maryland
  • Nursing Homes
  • Palliative Care*
  • Persistent Vegetative State*
  • Terminal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Withholding Treatment / statistics & numerical data*