Dementia Care at the End of Life: A Clinically Focused Review

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2023 Apr;31(4):291-303. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2022.11.006. Epub 2022 Nov 12.


With the geriatric population in the United States growing rapidly, the prevalence of dementia is expected to rise concomitantly. As dementia is an invariably progressive and terminal illness, planning for and managing end of life care in dementia is an important part of the overall process of dementia care. Unfortunately, this is often neglected outside of formal palliative and hospice medicine training programs and geriatric psychiatrists are left without preparation on how to manage, as well as counsel patients and families on, this important phase of dementia care. This review aims to explore the potential contributors to this historic disparity in geriatric education and care delivery, as well as its impact, while also attempting to shift the field's focus toward a palliative approach to dementia care. To begin to accomplish this, this review explores the natural illness history/disease trajectory of the various dementing illnesses, as well as the topic of prognostication as it pertains to the end of life for patients with dementia and how this information can be used in advanced care planning and symptom management.

Keywords: Dementia; advance care planning; end of life care; neurocognitive disorders; palliative care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Death
  • Dementia*
  • Hospice Care*
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care
  • Terminal Care*
  • United States