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Do dementia patients live longer in care facilities or at home?

If you have a loved one who's suffering from dementia, it's likely becoming increasingly more difficult to care for them and ensure their safety at home. They may wander away -- sometimes even taking the keys to the car and driving hundreds of miles -- if they aren't watched constantly.

However, many families hesitate to place their loved one in a nursing home or other care facility. One fear is that being away from loved ones and a familiar place -- even if they no longer recognize them -- will hasten their decline and even their death.

The research on whether people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia (which were the sixth most common cause of death in this country last year) are more likely to live longer if they remain at home or move to a group facility is inconclusive.

People with dementia die for a variety of reasons -- some of which aren't directly related to that condition. However, research has found that increasing a person's social interaction coupled with reducing the use of antipsychotic medications can increase their lifespan.

Another study found that patients who received effective treatment, whether via anti-depressants or antipsychotic drugs, for their behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) lived longer than those who didn't.

People with dementia have a greater risk of falling and breaking hips and other bones. These fall-related fractures are associated with earlier death. So are pressure sores, pneumonia and delirium.

When people with dementia receive proper care and treatment in an in-patient or other full-time care facility, they can thrive and live longer than if they aren't being cared for properly or receiving the appropriate medications.

When a person with dementia isn't cared for properly in a nursing home or other facility, however, they may not be able to communicate the problem to their loved one -- or even be aware that there is a problem. That's why it's essential for families to monitor their loved one's treatment and well-being closely if they're living away from home.

If you believe a loved one was harmed by the negligence or actions of nursing home or other care facility staff, you can and should look at your options for holding them legally responsible. By doing this, you can seek justice for your loved one and perhaps save others from harm.

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