Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Medical Science (MMSc)

First Advisor

Kathleen Akgün, MD


Dementia is a chronic, progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease with no curative treatment options. The number of Americans living with dementia is expected to triple between 2018 and 2050. Access to palliative care for patients living with dementia and other chronic diseases like cancer improves quality of life and may even prolong life. However, the optimal timing for a palliative care consult is not yet clear. This study seeks to determine whether early initiation of palliative care in dementia patients admitted to the hospital with acute illness benefits patient clinical outcomes (non-institutionalized days at home, readmissions, location of death) and psychological distress of surrogate decision makers. We propose a randomized controlled trial of early, proactive palliative care in hospitalized advanced dementia patients. These results may help to improve care for the growing population of older Americans and provide insights into alleviating the suffering of those living with dementia.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access