Most elderly dementia patients are cared for and die in their homes rather than in an institutional setting, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, reports HealthDay.
The study’s findings go against a widely-held belief that most dementia patients end up moving into a nursing home and dying there, according to Dr. Christopher Callahan, of the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, and his research colleagues. In fact, according to the study, about 19% died in nursing homes while nearly half (46%) died at home.
After following about 1,500 dementia patients, researchers found that 74% of those who were sent to a nursing home after a hospitalization didn’t stay there; rather, many ended up either being rehospitalized in under 30 days (about 25%) or returning home.
Dementia patients did not move straight from home to hospital to nursing home, as the researchers expected. Instead, dementia patients moved back and forth between settings, which can make managing patient care even more complex and add stress for family caregivers.The majority of dementia care for elderly patients is provided by family caregivers, according to the research.
“Our study is the first to track movement of individuals with dementia until death regardless of whether the cause of death was … dementia or another condition,” Callahan said in a journal news release. “A better understanding of the relationships between sites of care for older adults with dementia is fundamental to building better models of care for these vulnerable elders.”
What’s needed is more research on how to improve transitions and care management for dementia patients and their families, the researchers noted.
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Written by Alyssa Gerace