Objectives: People with dementia (PwD) require an increasing degree of assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), and dependency may negatively impact on their well-being. However, it remains unclear which activities are impaired at each stage of dementia and to what extent this is associated with variations in quality of life (QoL) across the different stages, which were the two objectives of this study.
Methods: The sample comprised 122 PwD, and their carers, either living at home or recently admitted to long-term care. Measures of cognition and QoL were completed by the PwD and proxy measures of psychopathology, depression, ADLs and QoL were recorded. Using frequency, correlation and multiple regression analysis, data were analysed for the number of ADL impairments across mild, moderate and severe dementia and for the factors impacting on QoL.
Results: ADL performance deteriorates differently for individual activities, with some ADLs showing impairment in mild dementia, including dressing, whereas others only deteriorate later on, including feeding. This decline may be seen in the degree to which carers perceive ADLs to explain the QoL of the PwD, with more ADLs associated with QoL in severe dementia. Results of the regression analysis showed that total ADL performance however was only impacting on QoL in moderate dementia.
Conclusion: Knowledge about performance deterioration in different ADLs has implications for designing interventions to address specific activities at different stages of the disease. Furthermore, findings suggest that different factors are important to consider when trying to improve or maintain QoL at different stages.