Burdensome transitions at the end of life among long-term care residents with dementia

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2014 Sep;15(9):643-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2014.04.018. Epub 2014 Jun 7.


Objectives: The purpose of the study was to examine the frequency of burdensome care transitions at the end of life, the difference between different types of residential care facilities, and the changes occurring between 2002 and 2008.

Design: A nationwide, register-based retrospective study.

Setting: Residential care facilities offering long-term care, including traditional nursing homes, sheltered housing with 24-hour assistance, and long-term care facilities specialized in care for people with dementia.

Study group: All people in Finland who died at the age of 70 or older, had dementia, and were in residential care during their last months of life.

Main outcome measures: Three types of potentially burdensome care transition: (1) any transition to another care facility in the last 3 days of life; (2) a lack of continuity with respect to a residential care facility before and after hospitalization in the last 90 days of life; (3) multiple hospitalizations (more than 2) in the last 90 days of life. The 3 types were studied separately and as a whole.

Results: One-tenth (9.5%) had burdensome care transitions. Multiple hospitalizations in the last 90 days were the most frequent, followed by any transitions in the last 3 days of life. The frequency varied between residents who lived in different baseline care facilities being higher in sheltered housing and long-term specialist care for people with dementia than in traditional nursing homes. During the study years, the number of transitions fluctuated but showed a slight decrease since 2005.

Conclusions: The ongoing change in long-term care from institutional care to housing services causes major challenges to the continuity of end-of-life care. To guarantee good quality during the last days of life for people with dementia, the underlying reasons behind transitions at the end of life should be investigated more thoroughly.

Keywords: Care transition; dementia; end of life; long-term care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Dementia / mortality*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Male
  • Patient Transfer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terminal Care / statistics & numerical data*