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Home care enhances elderly patients’ lives

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The need for services to aid in activities of daily living is at least as great for older persons dying from organ failure and frailty as for those dying from more traditional terminal conditions such as cancer, and the burden of disability in the last year of life is greatest among participants who died from advanced dementia. Credit: Courtesy, iStockphoto

YALE (US) —Services to assist with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, and walking, are needed for all older persons at the end of life, regardless of the conditions leading to their deaths, but are most needed by those dying from advanced dementia.

The course of disability in activities of daily living among older persons living at home and their families was tracked as part of the ongoing Precipitating Events Project (PEP) at Yale University.

The study, that includes 754 participants age 70 and older, seeks to better understand how older persons manage day-to-day activities and remain independent at home.

Details appear in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers followed the participants with monthly telephone interviews for over 10 years to determine the occurrence of disability. They evaluated the ability to complete essential activities of daily living in the last year of the lives of 383 participants who had died.

Lead author of the study, Thomas M. Gill, the Humana Foundation Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Yale School of Medicine, and his team wanted to identify distinct patterns of disability in the last year of life and to determine whether and how these patterns differ according to the condition leading to death.

“We found that the need for services to aid in activities of daily living is at least as great for older persons dying from organ failure and frailty as for those dying from more traditional terminal conditions such as cancer,” he says

“We also found that the burden of disability in the last year of life was greatest among participants who died from advanced dementia.”

Yale University news: http://opa.yale.edu/

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