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People with dementia have different paths of care


New research contradicts the belief that people with dementia die in nursing homes. In fact, at the time of death, individuals with dementia are more likely to be living at home than in a nursing home.

“This is a study on what it is like to live with dementia over a five- to 10-year period,” said Regenstrief Institute investigator Christopher Callahan, MD, Cornelius and Yvonne Pettinga Professor in Aging Research at Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research. “You probably won’t proceed on a straight line from home to hospital to nursing home. You will experience multiple transitions as you progress from mild to moderate to advanced dementia.”

Most people with dementia don’t actually die because of the neurological degeneration. Instead, they die of heart disease, cancer or pneumonia. This new study followed individuals with dementia to see where they received care through the stages of aging. What they found was that people with dementia go back and forth from home to hospice and back home again. There is no determined or usual path.

“These results challenge previous assumptions,” said Dr. Callahan. “Our findings will provide important information for all those concerned with managing the care of older adults – families, physicians, social workers, policy-makers, Medicare and Medicaid, insurance companies, hospital and nursing home administrators, as well as aging individuals. Caring for people living with dementia requires the attention of our entire health care system.”

They found that 74% of the time people with dementia go to a nursing home after hospitalization but they don’t stay there. A fourth will return to the hospital. Many return home once recovered.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

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