The National Institute on Aging has awarded Suzanne Sullivan $159,000 to develop approaches to prepare persons with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers to make end-of-life decisions.
Making headlines for the end-of-life sector is Suzanne Sullivan, the recent National Institutes of Health grant recipient. She is an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Buffalo, where she also received her PhD. in 2018. Her research is specialized in end-of-life care and this grant is no different. Sullivan’s grant results will be the first step in developing an approach for personalizing care to guide persons with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers in making end-of-life care decisions.
Marsha L. Lewis, professor and dean of the University of Buffalo School of Nursing, said: “The end-of-life process is a unique experience for each person, coming in its own time and its own way,” “Knowing what to expect during this difficult time can lessen some of the fears and apprehensions that family members and people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may be feeling.”
Lewis is proud of Sullivan, who was able to receive the grant on her first attempt. She believes her research will help find ways to alleviate some of the burdens that individuals with Alzheimer’s are experiencing.
National Institutes of Health Grant
Founded in the 1880s the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research and is a part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services
The NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, investing more than $32 billion a year to enhance life, and reduce illness and disability. Many life-improving cures have come from their projects, such as using florid to prevent cavities.
Improving end-of-life for Alzheimer patients
Suzanne will use the $159,000 NIH grant over the next two years to develop a predictive model of factors related to end-of-life quality-of-life that aim to reveal insights in end-of-life care transitions, specifically focusing on older adults.
Sullivan’s proposal defines older adults with Alzheimer’s disease as high-risk individuals because they experience “burdensome care transitions, avoidable hospitalizations, and poor end-of-life quality-of-life.” These patients endure multiple chronic illnesses, which puts escalating demands on caregivers, Sullivan explains. These conditions can lead to what she calls significant personal and public socio-economic burdens.
Decades of research have focused on improving the rates of advance care plans for those with Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias, she continues in her proposal stating that: “there is a critical need to discover new approaches for preparing persons with Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias and their caregivers in making informed, in-the-moment decisions, to ensure high end-of-life and quality-of-life care, and to support appropriate transitions in care as circumstances change over time.”
Yu-Ping Chang, associate dean for research and scholarship at the School of Nursing and co-investigators said: “When a person with Alzheimer’s disease is in the very late stages of the disease, it is critical to focus on quality-of-life and comfort, rather than on getting more treatments that may not be beneficial.”
“Understanding the contributing factors of quality of life at the end of life is a critical step,” Chang says. “This important research will help to develop new approaches for preparing persons with Alzheimer’s disease and their families to ensure that the best possible quality-of-life decisions are being made for this vulnerable population.