In the absence of a cure, dementia is often managed by minimizing risk factors contributing to quality of life (QOL). Attitudes to dementia in older adults may differ from those in relatively younger adults. The aim was to conduct a systematic review of the literature to determine how QOL was assessed in adults, 65 years and older with dementia, and identify factors that influence the reported scores.
A systematic review of full-text articles addressing QOL in older adults with dementia, published in English from January 1995 to September 2020, was conducted using PubMed and PsycINFO. We included studies that assessed QOL and involved participants 65 years and older. Studies were evaluated for inclusion by 2 independent pairs of reviewers. We assessed the quality of the studies using the Joanna Briggs Institute’s Critical Appraisal Checklist. Study characteristics and findings were summarized. Analysis was by narrative synthesis. We identified social and clinical factors influencing QOL scores.
Of the 1,010 articles identified, 19 met the inclusion criteria. These 19 studies involved 6,279 persons with dementia, with sample sizes from 32 to 1,366. Mean age of participants ranged from 77.1 to 86.6 years. Five measurement tools were identified; Quality of Life in Alzheimer Disease (QOL-AD), Alzheimer Disease-Related Quality of Life (ADRQL), Quality of Life in Late-Stage Dementia (QUALID), QUALIDEM (a dementia-specific QOL tool), and DEMQOL (health-related QOL for people with dementia). Self-ratings of QOL were higher than proxy ratings. Factors commonly influencing self-ratings of QOL included depression, functional impairment, and polypharmacy. Common factors that influenced proxy ratings included functional impairment, presence of neuropsychiatric symptoms, cognitive impairment, and caregiver burden.
In evaluating QOL in dementia, self- and proxy reports may complement each other to ensure that all perspectives are addressed.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.