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The mental health and mortality impact of death of a partner with dementia

Carey, IM; De Wilde, S; Harris, T; Cook, DG (2016) The mental health and mortality impact of death of a partner with dementia. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 31 (8). pp. 929-937. ISSN 0885-6230
SGUL Authors: Carey, Iain Miller

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Objective Caring for a partner with dementia and partner bereavement are independently associated with poor health. An understanding of the health effects of living with a partner dying with dementia can help optimise support. We describe health in the year before and after loss of a partner with dementia compared with other bereavements. Methods In a UK primary care database, 2624 older individuals whose partner died with dementia during 2005–2012 were matched with 7512 individuals experiencing bereavement where the deceased partner had no dementia recorded. Results Prior to bereavement, partners of the deceased with dementia were more likely to be diagnosed with depression (OR 2.31, 1.69–3.14) and receive psychotropic medication (OR 1.34, 1.21–1.49) than partners from bereavements without dementia. In contrast, psychotropic medication initiation two months after dementia bereavement was lower (HR 0.69, 0.56–0.85). Compared with other bereaved individuals, mortality after bereavement was lower in men experiencing a dementia bereavement (HR 0.68, 0.49–0.94) but similar in women (HR 1.02, 0.75–1.38). Prior to bereavement, those who died with dementia were less likely to receive palliative care (OR 0.47, 0.41–0.54). Conclusion In the year before bereavement, partners of individuals dying with dementia experience poorer mental health than those facing bereavement from other causes, and their partner is less likely to receive palliative care. In the year after, individuals whose partner died with dementia experience some attenuation of the adverse health effects of bereavement. Services need to address the needs of carers for individuals dying with dementia and improve access to palliative care. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Shah, S. M., Carey, I. M., Harris, T., DeWilde, S., Victor, C. R., and Cook, D. G. (2016) The mental health and mortality impact of death of a partner with dementia. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry, 31: 929–937, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
SGUL Research Institute / Research Centre: Academic Structure > Population Health Research Institute (INPH)
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
ISSN: 0885-6230
1 December 2015Accepted
2 February 2016Published Online
1 August 2016Published
Publisher License: Publisher's own licence
Project IDFunderFunder ID
R169/0710Dunhill Medical Trust
Publisher's version:

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