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A qualitative study with people with young-onset dementia and their family caregivers on advance care planning: A holistic, flexible, and relational approach is recommended.

Van Rickstal R, Vleminck A, Engelborghs S, Versijpt J, Van den Block L. A qualitative study with people with young-onset dementia and their family caregivers on advance care planning: A holistic, flexible, and relational approach is recommended. Palliat Med. 2022 Apr 26:2692163221090385. doi: 10.1177/02692163221090385.

Abstract

Background: Broad consensus exists on the relevance of advance care planning in dementia. Although people with young-onset dementia and their family are hypothesized to have distinct needs and preferences in this area, they are hardly ever included in studies.

Aim: We aim to explore the experiences with and views on advance care planning of people with young-onset dementia and their family caregivers.

Design: A qualitative study was conducted, analyzing semi-structured interviews through the method of constant comparative analysis.

Setting/participants: We included 10 people with young-onset dementia and 10 of their family caregivers in Flanders.

Results: Participants lacked awareness about the concept of advance care planning, especially as a communication process. They had not or barely engaged in planning future care yet pointed out possible benefits of doing so. Initially, people with young-onset dementia and their caregivers directly associated advance care planning with planning for the actual end of life. When discussing advance care planning as a communication process, they paid ample attention to non-medical aspects and did not distinguish between medical, mental, and social health. Rather, respondents thought in the overarching framework of what is important to them now and in the future.

Conclusions: Engagement in advance care planning might be hindered if it is too medicalized and exclusively patient-centered. To accommodate advance care planning to people with young-onset dementia's and their caregivers' needs, it should be presented and implemented as a holistic, flexible, and relational communication process. Policy and practice recommendations are provided on how to do so.