Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the last year of life of people with dementia, their symptoms, care needs, use of and satisfaction with health services and the bereavement state of the respondent. METHODS: The study is drawn from the Regional Study of Care for the Dying, a retrospective sample survey of the carers, family members or others who knew about the last year of life of a random sample of people age 15 and over dying in the last quarter of 1990. The samples were drawn in 20 English health districts which, although self-selected, were nationally representative. There was a total of 3696 patients (response rate of 69%) dying from all causes. Within this sample, 170 dementia patients were identified and compared with 1513 cancer patients. RESULTS: The symptoms most commonly reported in the last year were mental confusion (83%), urinary incontinence (72%), pain (64%), low mood (61%), constipation (59%) and loss of appetite (57%). Dementia patients saw their GP less often than cancer patients and their respondents rated GP assistance less highly. Dementia patients needed more help at home compared with cancer patients, and received more social services; 78% of respondents for dementia patients and 64% for cancer said they had come to terms with the patient's death. CONCLUSION: Patients dying from dementia have symptoms and health care needs comparable with cancer patients. Greater attention should be given to these needs.

Original publication




Journal article


International journal of geriatric psychiatry

Publication Date





404 - 409


Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, UK.


Humans, Neoplasms, Dementia, Palliative Care, Terminal Care, Geriatric Assessment, Retrospective Studies, Attitude to Death, Bereavement, Sick Role, Comorbidity, Quality of Life, Social Environment, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Caregivers, Patient Care Team, Female, Male