Differences in Assessment of Everyday Preferences Between People With Cognitive Impairment and Their Care Partners: The Role of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2020 Oct;28(10):1070-1078. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2020.01.189. Epub 2020 Feb 6.


Objective: As cognitive impairment progresses, people with dementia increasingly rely on surrogate decision-makers for everyday activities. Yet, little is known about concordance on everyday preferences between persons with cognitive impairment and their care partners.

Methods: The sample included 69 dyads of persons with cognitive impairment (Clinical Dementia Rating Scale ≥0.5) and their care partners. We used the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI) to assess preferences for activities and lifestyle choices among persons with cognitive impairment. The PELI was concurrently but separately administered to care partners, who answered as surrogate decision-makers. Factor analysis was used to ascertain factor structure of the PELI; reliability measures were computed within the sample. Paired sample t-tests were used to estimate differences in scores of corresponding PELI items for each factor. Multiple regression models were used to relate predictors, including neuropsychiatric symptoms, to agreement levels.

Results: Four factors were identified from the PELI: autonomous choice, social engagement, personal growth, and keeping a routine. Significant participant-care partner discrepancy was found in "social engagement" preferences (e.g., regular contact with family, meeting new people, volunteering). Geriatric Depression Scale-15 score and care partner sex were significantly associated with participant-care partner discrepancies in "social engagement" preferences.

Conclusion: This study yields new insights regarding the most important preferences for persons with cognitive impairment and clarifies a path to optimizing surrogate decision-making around everyday preferences by highlighting areas of apparent disagreement and identifying potential predictors of discrepancy.

Keywords: Dementia; bioethics; surrogate-decision making.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / nursing*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Preference / psychology*
  • Social Participation