Background: Several studies have shown a negative correlation between dementia and survival. To our knowledge, the simultaneous effect of other factors has not been systematically studied in institutionalized patients.
Objective: To determine survival in demented inpatients compared with that in a matched population of nondemented patients institutionalized for other chronic debilitating diseases.
Design: The sample consisted of 213 patients with dementia and 157 patients without dementia. We studied the effect on survival of gender, age, loss of functional capacities, and cognitive functions with the method of Kaplan and Meier and with the model of Cox.
Results: Demented patients had significantly shorter survival when other factors were kept constant in the multivariate analysis. There was a strong correlation between survival and the degree of autonomy as measured by ability to walk, continence, and preserved activities of daily living. Survival was significantly shorter for men. No correlation was found with neuropsychological measures of severity of dementia or with age on admission.
Conclusions: Survival of demented patients is shorter than that of patients institutionalized for other invalidating conditions. The lack of correlation between neuropsychological test results and survival indicates that in the population we studied, the severity of dementia did not predict length of survival. The data show that the combination of dementia and loss of functional capacities is the most important factor in predicting survival.