Beyond Dementia – Reasons for Nursing Home Admissions and What You Can Do For Your Elders

The Leipzig Longitudinal Study of the Aged examines predictors of nursing home admissions among seniors without a dementia diagnosis. It is one of the first analyses that don’t consider dementia.

1,024 elderly adults over 75 without dementia were interviewed six times on average every 1.4 years, according to the report. During the study, 7.8% of seniors without dementia were admitted to a nursing home.

Factors that led to faster admission to a nursing home include living alone, functional impairment, major depression and stroke. Seniors who had home care aides, as well as seniors who did not regularly see specialist physicians were also more likely to be admitted to a nursing home sooner.

The reasons for admission did not strike me as unusual but may to others. Particularly those living alone being more likely to be admitted. Often that loneliness leads to depression. And it speaks to the fact that many people discount the positive social aspects that any type of senior living arrangement offers. It also makes sense that seniors not under the care of a specialist tend to be more likely to go to a nursing home, most likely because they were not keeping up with their health issues. Those having home care aides surprised me but when I thought about it made sense. Those same care aides are probably more acutely aware of just how much care their clients need and recognize when home care is truly not enough.

Some of these non-dementia issues we can control. Certainly a functional impairment or stroke could be out of our reach to prevent but we can help our elders living alone and often depressed. That is a societal role for anyone. Do you know the seniors in your neighborhood and their circumstances? Perhaps they can use a new friend.

The study appears in BMC Health Services Research 2010.

Source: McKnights