Incidence and predictors of advance care planning among persons with cognitive impairment

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;19(8):712-20. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181faebef.


Objective: Persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer disease (AD) are at heightened risk for future decisional incapacity. We sought to characterize advance care planning (ACP) rates over time in individuals who had no advance directives (living will or durable power of attorney) in place when they initially presented for a cognitive evaluation.

Design: Retrospective analysis of data that had been prospectively collected.

Setting: Alzheimer's Disease Research Center memory disorders clinic.

Participants: Persons (N = 127) with a diagnosis of MCI or early AD (n = 72) or moderate to severe AD (n = 55) and no advance directives upon initial presentation for a cognitive evaluation.

Measurements: Extraction of responses to items pertaining to ACP assessed during annual semistructured interviews.

Results: By 5 years of follow-up, 39% of the sample had initiated ACP, with little difference by baseline diagnosis. Younger subjects (younger than 65 years) were significantly more likely to initiate advance directives (43%) than older subjects (37%). This age effect was more pronounced in men than in women as well as in married subjects, those with a family history of dementia, those with no depressive disorder, and subjects with moderate to severe AD (versus those with MCI or early AD) at baseline.

Conclusion: Only a minority of subjects initiated ACP. The findings suggest the need for interventions aimed at enhancing ACP completion rates, particularly among older adults with cognitive impairment, since these individuals may have a time-limited opportunity to plan for future medical, financial, and other major life decisions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning*
  • Advance Directives / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pennsylvania
  • Retrospective Studies