Correlates of Divorce/Separation Examined in Seniors With Dementia

Divorce/separation less likely at later stages of dementia, more likely with more severe neuropsychiatric behavioral symptoms
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FRIDAY, Aug. 18, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Later stage of dementia is associated with reduced odds of divorce or separation among older adults in the United States, while having more severe neuropsychiatric behavioral symptoms is associated with an increased likelihood of divorce, according to a study published online Aug. 16 in PLOS ONE.

Joan K. Monin, Ph.D., from the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues used data from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center Uniform dataset versions 2 and 3 to examine the impact of dementia staging and neuropsychiatric behavioral symptoms on the likelihood of divorce or separation among older adult married couples or couples living as married/domestic partners. Data were obtained from 291 cases defined by a first divorce/separation occurring during follow-up and five controls for each married/living-as-married case.

The researchers observed a negative association for later stage of dementia with divorce/separation (adjusted odds ratio, 0.68). A positive association was seen for higher overall Neuro Psychiatric Inventory score with divorce/separation (adjusted odds ratio, 1.08). Greater odds of divorce/separation were seen for more severe ratings of agitation/aggression, depression/dysphoria, disinhibition, and elation/euphoria.

"These findings have important clinical and societal implications," the authors write. "They suggest that focusing on treatment of symptoms such as agitation/aggression, depression/dysphoria, disinhibition and elation/euphoria in older adults may not only help individuals themselves, but also their spouses, their family, and society."

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