Persistent vegetative state and dementia in the elderly

Efraim Jaul*, Ronit Calderon-Margalit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Very few studies have approached the issue of persistent vegetative state (PVS) within the elderly population. This study aims to assess the prevalence, determinants and prognosis of elderly patients with PVS admitted to a long-term geriatric facility. Methods: We conducted a cohort study in the setting of a Skilled Geriatric Nursing Department. All patients admitted during a 17-month period (N = 88) were included and tested for a diagnosis of PVS according to the Disability Rating Scale (DRS). Results: A clinical diagnosis of PVS was given to 15% of patients upon admission, whereas the DRS diagnosed 30.5% of patients as having PVS. During the study period, 12 out of 31 patients with PVS died, with a median survival of 127 days (range: 1-517 days). Conclusion: Our study suggests that PVS is an advanced stage in the natural history of dementia in the elderly. The low proportion of patients with PVS recognized as having this disorder upon admission suggests a low awareness among hospital personnel. Further studies of the prevalence and determinants of PVS in the severely disabled elderly population are warranted.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1064-1071
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2007


  • Elderly
  • Terminal dementia
  • Vegetative state


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