Geriatric Aspects of Frail Nursing Home Residents : A Swedish cohort study
Sammanfattning: Background: The number and proportion of older people are increasing in Sweden as well as throughout the western world. Older people with increasing assistance needs that can no longer be met in their own home need institutional long-term care in nursing homes. A successive reduction of nursing home beds in combination with a future demographic development with a rapidly increasing number of older people will lead to higher demands on future medical care in nursing homes. Consequently, increased knowledge about the medical needs of nursing home residents is of great value.Objectives: This thesis explores some important geriatric aspects of frail nursing home residents. The specific aims was to characterise the population of nursing home residents, to explore the prevalence of anaemia, paying particular attention to risk factors and mortality, to investigate associations between falls and use of possible fall risk drug classes and to estimate the prevalence of diagnostic failure of cognitive impairment and to investigate whether diagnostic failure was associated with impaired medical care.Methods: All data originate from SHADES (the Study of Health and Drugs in Elderly nursing home residents in Sweden), a prospective cohort study that included nursing home residents at 12 nursing homes situated in three municipalities in southern Sweden between 2008 and 2011. The subjects were followed every six months with data collection from medical records concerning medications, diagnoses, hospital referrals and mortality, examinations including blood sample analyses, assessments with validated rating scales for cognitive evaluation, depression, risk of pressure ulcers, malnutrition or falls, and the need for care was rated through a questionnaire.Results: SHADES included a total of 428 subjects with a mean age of 85 years, of whom 71% were women. They demonstrated comorbidity with a mean of three registered medical diagnoses, and polypharmacy with a mean of seven regularly used drugs. More than half of the sample (60%) were at risk of malnutrition and one third were at risk of developing pressure ulcers. A set of single items from the performed risk assessments was found to be important in understanding frailty and need for care. One third of the women and half of the men had anaemia. For the men, anaemia was associated with significantly higher mortality. Haemoglobin decline was also associated with higher mortality. Almost everyone (93%) had an increased fall risk and 62% had fallen during the last year. There was an association between falls during the last year and regular use of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics. In the older age group there was also an association between these drugs and serious falls the next 6 months. Dementia was previously diagnosed in 42%. However, among subjects without a dementia diagnosis, 72% were cognitively impaired (Mini Mental State Examination <24). These subjects were significantly older, did not get anti-dementia treatment and had higher levels of brain natriuretic peptide compared to the diagnosed dementia group, possibly indicating heart failure. Their risks of malnutrition and pressure ulcers were similar to the dementia group.Conclusions: Nursing home residents are generally frail. Anaemia is associated with higher mortality among men. The fall risk is generally high and use of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics is associated with a higher occurrence of falls. Cognitive impairment is undiagnosed in half of the cases and may indicate underlying heart failure. Consequently, regular medical follow-ups in this population are proposed to include blood count, drug review, and cognitive evaluation. In the case of cognitive impairment, exclusion of underlying disease such as heart failure should be considered.
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