ISSN: 1471-2318 |
gerontology and geriatrics
Published by Biomed Central Ltd.
No Issue Number
- Regional variation in care at the end of life: discontinuation of dialysis
Background: Regional variation in the intensity of end-of-life care contributes significantly to the overall cost of health care. The interpretation of patterns of regional variation hinges, in part, on appropriate adjustment for regional variation in demographic variables such as age, race, sex, and rural vs. urban residence. This study examined regional variation in discontinuation of dialysis prior to death in the US, after adjustment for key demographic variables. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study of the 2009 United States Renal Data System (USRDS) database we examined discontinuation of dialysis prior to death among deceased adult patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The discontinuation of dialysis prior to death was ascertained from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services form 2746 (ESRD Death Notification form). We used logistic regression to estimate the log-odds of discontinuation of dialysis with ESRD network as independent variable adjusted for urban--rural status, demographic and treatment variables. Results: The study cohort included 715,605 deceased ESRD patients; for 176,021 of whom (24.6%) dialysis was discontinued prior to death. Dialysis was discontinued at higher rates for women than for men (26.3% vs. 23.0%, p < 0.001) and for whites than for blacks (29.5% vs. 14.7%, p < 0.001). Significant regional variation in dialysis discontinuation prior to death was noted after adjustment for age, race and rural--urban status: rates of discontinuation in the Upper Midwest and Mountain regions were more than double the rates in Southern and Coastal regions. This pattern parallels the regional pattern of end-of-life health service utilization documented in the Dartmouth Atlas and other studies. Conclusions: Discontinuation of dialysis prior to death was common in the US between 1995 and 2009. The deaths of nearly one quarter of chronic dialysis patients followed a decision to discontinue dialysis. Significant regional variation in discontinuation rates exists after adjusting for age, race, sex, and rural--urban status. Further research and analysis is needed on the cultural and economic factors that affect regional variation in health services utilization, especially in regard to the use of expensive medical services near the end of life.
- Development and validation of a questionnaire for analyzing real-life falls in long-term care captured on video
Background: Falls are the number one cause of injuries in older adults, and are particularly common in long-term care (LTC). Lack of objective evidence on the mechanisms of falls in this setting is a major barrier to prevention. Video capture of real-life falls can help to address this barrier, if valid tools are available for data analysis. To address this need, we developed a 24-item fall video analysis questionnaire (FVAQ) to probe key biomechanical, behavioural, situational, and environmental aspects of the initiation, descent, and impact stages of falls. We then tested the reliability of this tool using video footage of falls collected in LTC. Methods: Over three years, we video-captured 221 falls experienced by 130 individuals in common areas (e.g., dining rooms, hallways, and lounges) of two LTC facilities. The FVAQ was developed through literature review and an iterative process to ensure our responses captured the most common behaviours observed in preliminary review of fall videos. Inter-rater reliability was assessed by comparing responses from two teams, each having three members, who reviewed 15 randomly-selected videos. Intra-rater reliability was measured by comparing responses from one team at baseline and 12 months later. Results: In 17 of the 24 questions, the percentage of inter- and intra-rater agreement was over 80% and the Cohen's Kappa was greater than 0.60, reflecting good reliability. These included questions on the cause of imbalance, activity at the time of the fall, fall direction, stepping responses, and impact to specific body sites. Poorer agreement was observed for footwear, contribution of clutter, reach-to-grasp responses, and perceived site of injury risk. Conclusions: Our results provide strong evidence of the reliability of the FVAQ for classifying biomechanical, behavioural, situational, and environmental aspects of falls captured on video in common areas in LTC. Application of this tool should reveal new and important strategies for the prevention and treatment of falls and fall-related injuries in this setting.
- Effects of 3 months of short sessions of controlled whole body vibrations on the risk of falls among nursing home residents
Background: Fatigue, lack of motivation and low compliance can be observed in nursing home residents during the practice of physical activity. Because exercises should not be too vigorous, whole body vibration could potentially be an effective alternative. The objective of this randomized controlled trial was to assess the impact of 3-month training by whole body vibration on the risk of falls among nursing home residents. Methods: Patients were randomized into two groups: the whole body vibration group which received 3 training sessions every week composed of 5 series of only 15 seconds of vibrations at 30 Hz frequency and a control group with normal daily life for the whole study period. The impact of this training on the risk of falls was assessed blindly by three tests: the Tinetti Test, the Timed Up and Go test and a quantitative evaluation of a 10-second walk performed with a tri-axial accelerometer. Results: 62 subjects (47 women and 15 men; mean age 83.2 +/- 7.99 years) were recruited for the study. No significant change in the studied parameters was observed between the treated (n=31) and the control group (n=31) after 3 months of training by controlled whole-body-vibrations. Actually, the Tinetti test increased of + 0.93 +/- 3.14 points in the treated group against + 0.88 +/- 2.33 points in the control group (p = 0.89 when adjusted). The Timed Up and Go test showed a median evolution of - 1.14 (- 4.75-3.73) seconds in the treated group against + 0.41 (- 3.57- 2.41) seconds in the control group (p = 0.06). For the quantitative evaluation of the walk, no significant change was observed between the treated and the control group in single task as well as in dual task conditions. Conclusions: The whole body vibration training performed with the exposition settings such as those used in this research was feasible but seems to have no impact on the risk of falls among nursing home residents. Further investigations, in which, for example, the exposure parameters would be changed, seem necessary.Trial registration: Trial registration number: NCT01759680
- Older adults are mobile too! Identifying the barriers and facilitators to older adults' use of mHealth for pain management
Background: Mobile health (mHealth) is a rapidly emerging field with the potential to assist older adults in the management of chronic pain (CP) through enhanced communication with providers, monitoring treatment-related side effects and pain levels, and increased access to pain care resources. Little is currently known, however, about older adults' attitudes and perceptions of mHealth or perceived barriers and facilitators to using mHealth tools to improve pain management. Methods: We conducted six focus groups comprised of 41 diverse older adults (>=60 years of age) with CP. Participants were recruited from one primary care practice and two multiservice senior community day-visit centers located in New York City that serve older adults in their surrounding neighborhoods. Focus group discussions were recorded and transcribed, and transcriptions were analyzed using direct content analysis to identify and quantify themes. Results: Focus group discussions generated 38 individual themes pertaining to the use of mHealth to help manage pain and pain medications. Participants had low prior use of mHealth (5% of participants), but the vast majority (85%) were highly willing to try the devices. Participants reported that mHealth devices might help them reach their healthcare provider more expeditiously (27%), as well as help to monitor for falls and other adverse events in the home (15%). Barriers to device use included concerns about the cost (42%) and a lack of familiarity with the technology (32%). Facilitators to device use included training prior to device use (61%) and tailoring devices to the functional needs of older adults (34%). Conclusions: This study suggests that older adults with CP are interested and willing to use mHealth to assist in the management of pain. Participants in our study reported important barriers that medical professionals, researchers, and mHealth developers should address to help facilitate the development and evaluation of age-appropriate, and function-appropriate, mHealth devices for older persons with CP.
- Age-related self-overestimation of step-over ability in healthy older adults and its relationship to fall risk
Background: Older adults could not safely step over an obstacle unless they correctly estimated their physical ability to be capable of a successful step over action. Thus, incorrect estimation (overestimation) of ability to step over an obstacle could result in severe accident such as falls in older adults. We investigated whether older adults tended to overestimate step-over ability compared with young adults and whether such overestimation in stepping over obstacles was associated with falls. Methods: Three groups of adults, young-old (age, 60--74 years; n, 343), old-old (age, >74 years; n, 151), and young (age, 18--35 years; n, 71), performed our original step-over test (SOT). In the SOT, participants observed a horizontal bar at a 7-m distance and estimated the maximum height (EH) that they could step over. After estimation, they performed real SOT trials to measure the actual maximum height (AH). We also identified participants who had experienced falls in the 1 year period before the study. Results: Thirty-nine young-old adults (11.4%) and 49 old-old adults (32.5%) failed to step over the bar at EH (overestimation), whereas all young adults succeeded (underestimation). There was a significant negative correlation between actual performance (AH) and self-estimation error (difference between EH and AH) in the older adults, indicating that older adults with lower AH (SOT ability) tended to overestimate actual ability (EH > AH) and vice versa. Furthermore, the percentage of participants who overestimated SOT ability in the fallers (28%) was almost double larger than that in the non-fallers (16%), with the fallers showing significantly lower SOT ability than the non-fallers. Conclusions: Older adults appear unaware of age-related physical decline and tended to overestimate step-over ability. Both age-related decline in step-over ability, and more importantly, overestimation or decreased underestimation of this ability may raise potential risk of falls.
- Cardiac ventricular dimensions predict cognitive decline and cerebral blood flow abnormalities in aging men
Background: The aims of this study are to examine possible associations between left cardiac ventricular measures in sixth decade and cognitive performance, both cross sectionally and longitudinally, and to examine if left cardiac ventricular measures could predict future changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF). Methods: 211 elderly men from a cohort of the population study "Men born in 1914" completed M-mode echocardiography and a cognitive test battery at age 68. The cognitive test battery was repeated at age 81. CBF was estimated with 99mTc-HMPAO SPECT in 72 survivors at age 83. Cognitive performance at baseline and at 1st follow up and CBF at 1st follow up were analysed in relation to left ventricular internal dimension in diastole (LVIDd mm/m2) and fractional shortening (FS). Results: Subjects with enlarged LVIDd at age 68 had poorer results on verbal and speed-performance tests at baseline and on verbal and visuo-spatial tests 14 years later on. Low FS was associated with decreased results on visuo-spatial tests at baseline. There was an inverse relationship between LVIDd and both verbal and spatial ability at the baseline and after 14 years of follow-up. Normotensive men with lower FS had also decreased CBF in a majority of brain areas 14 years later. Conclusions: Mild echocardiographic abnormalities in 68ys.-old men, as increased LVIDd and lower FS, are associated with lower cognitive test results and may predict cognitive decline and silent cerebral perfusion abnormalities 14 years later.
- Lower urinary tract symptoms and falls risk among older women receiving home support: a prospective cohort study
Background: Although lower urinary tract symptoms have been associated with falls, few studies have been undertaken to understand this relationship in vulnerable community dwelling older adults. The purpose of this study was to describe the relationship over time of falls risk and lower urinary tract symptoms among community based older women receiving home support services. Methods: A prospective cohort study which took place in an urban setting in western Canada. Participants were 100 older women receiving home care or residing in assisted living with home support services and were followed for six months. Demographic characteristics were collected at baseline, with the Timed Up and Go (TUG), International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire Female Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (ICIQ-FLUTS), and self-report of falls collected at baseline, 3 and 6 months. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize demographic data. Differences between the three visits were analyzed using the Friedman test with post hoc analysis and associations between variables by the Spearman Rank-Order Correlation Coefficient. Results: One hundred women initially enrolled; 88 and 75 remained at three months and six months. Mean age = 84.3 years; 91% reported at least one urinary symptom at baseline and 35% reported falling in the six months prior to enrollment; 15.9% reported falling between the baseline and three months and 14.6% between three and six months. Mean TUG scores at each time point indicated falls risk (27.21, 29.18 and 27.76 seconds). Significant correlations between TUG and ICIQ-FLUTS (r = 0.33, p < .001; r = 0.39, p < .001) as well as TUG and overactive bladder scores (r = 0.25, p = .005; r = 0.28, p < .008) were found at baseline and three months, but not six months. Conclusions: The association of lower urinary tract symptoms and falls risk in this group of vulnerable community dwelling older women at baseline and three months has potential clinical relevance. Lack of correlation at six months may be due loss of less robust participants, illuminating the difficulty in following frailer groups over time. Further studies are needed to understand the contribution of urinary symptoms to falls risk, and clinicians should incorporate continence assessment within falls risk assessment.
- Urinary incontinence and risk of functional decline in older women: data from the Norwegian HUNT-study
Background: The main objective of the present study was to determine whether UI is an independent predictor of ADL decline and IADL decline in elderly women. We also aimed to find out whether incontinent subjects were at higher risk of needing help from formal home care or home nursing care during 11 year follow-up. Methods: A prospective cohort study conducted as part of the North-Trøndelag Health Study 2 and 3. Women aged 70-80 years when participating in the HUNT 2 study, who also participated in the HUNT 3 study, were included in this study. Analyses on self-reported urinary incontinence at baseline and functional decline during a11-year period were performed for incontinent and continent subjects. Results: Baseline prevalence of urinary incontinence was 24%. At on average eleven year follow up, logistic regression analysis showed a significant association between incontinence and decline in activities of daily living (ADL) (OR =2.37, 95% CI =1.01-5.58) (P = 0.04). No association between urinary incontinence and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) in incontinent women compared with continent women was found (OR =1.18, CI =.75-1.86) (P=.46). Data were adjusted for ADL, IADL and co morbid conditions at baseline. No significant differences in need of more help from formal home care and home nursing care between continent and incontinent women were found after 11 years of follow-up. Conclusions: Urinary incontinence is an important factor associated with functional decline in women aged 70-80 years living in their own homes. At eleven years of follow up, no significant differences in need of more help from formal home care and home nursing care between continent and incontinent women were found.
- Gender differences in home care clients and admission to long-term care in Ontario, Canada: a population-based retrospective cohort study
Background: Home care is integral to enabling older adults to delay or avoid long-term care (LTC) admission. To date, there is little population-based data about gender differences in home care users and their subsequent outcomes. Our objectives were to quantify differences between women and men who used home care in Ontario, Canada and to determine if there were subsequent differences in LTC admission. Methods: This is a population-based retrospective cohort study. We identified all adults aged 76+ years living in Ontario and receiving home care on April 1, 2007 (baseline). Using the Resident Assessment Instrument -- Home Care (RAI-HC) linked to other databases, we characterized the cohort by living condition, health and functioning, and identified all acute care and LTC use in the year following baseline. Results: The cohort consisted of 51,201 women and 20,102 men. Women were older, more likely to live alone, and more likely to rely on a child or child-in-law for caregiver support. Men most frequently identified a spouse as caregiver and their caregivers reported distress twice as often as women's caregivers. Men had higher rates of most chronic conditions and were more likely to experience impairment. Men were more likely to be admitted to hospital, to have longer stays in hospital, and to be admitted to LTC. Conclusions: Understanding who uses home care and why is critical to ensuring that these programs effectively reduce LTC use. We found that women outnumbered men but that men presented with higher levels of need. This detailed gender analysis highlights how needs differ between older women, men, and their respective caregivers.
- Pilot comparative effectiveness study of surface perturbation treadmill training to prevent falls in older adults
Background: Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. Exercise programs appear to reduce fall risk, but the optimal type, frequency, and duration of exercise is unknown. External perturbations such as tripping and slipping are a major contributor to falls, and task-specific perturbation training to enhance dynamic stability has emerged as a promising approach to modifying fall risk. The purpose of this pilot study was 1) to determine the feasibility of conducting a large pragmatic randomized trial comparing a multidimensional exercise program inclusive of the surface perturbation treadmill training (SPTT) to multidimensional exercise alone (Standard PT); and 2) to assess fall outcomes between the two groups to determine whether an effect size large enough to warrant further study might be present. Methods: A randomized pilot study at two outpatient physical therapy clinics. Participants were over age 64 and referred for gait and balance training. Feasibility for a larger randomized trial was assessed based on the ability of therapists to incorporate the SPTT into their clinical practice and acceptance of study participation by eligible patients. Falls were assessed by telephone interview 3 months after enrollment. Results: Of 83 patients who were screened, 73 met inclusion criteria. SPTT was successfully adapted into clinical practice and 88% of eligible subjects were willing to be randomized, although 10% of the SPTT cohort dropped out prior to treatment. The SPTT group showed fewer subjects having any fall (19.23% vs. 33.33% Standard PT; p < 0.227) and fewer having an injurious fall (7.69% vs. 18.18%; p < 0.243). These results were not statistically significant but this pilot study was not powered for hypothesis testing. Conclusions: Physical therapy inclusive of surface perturbation treadmill training appears clinically feasible, and randomization between these two PT interventions is acceptable to the majority of patients. These results appear to merit longer-term study in an adequately powered trial.Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01006967
- Neck muscle cross-sectional area, brain volume and cognition in healthy older men; a cohort study
Background: Two important consequences of the normal ageing process are sarcopenia (the age-related loss of muscle mass and function) and age-related cognitive decline. Existing data support positive relationships between muscle function, cognition and brain structure. However, studies investigating these relationships at older ages are lacking and rarely include a measure of muscle size. Here we test whether neck muscle size is positively associated with cognition and brain structure in older men. Methods: We studied 51 healthy older men with mean age 73.8 (sd 1.5) years. Neck muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) was measured from T1-weighted MR-brain scans using a validated technique. We measured multiple cognitive domains including verbal and visuospatial memory, executive functioning and estimated prior cognitive ability. Whole brain, ventricular, hippocampal and cerebellar volumes were measured with MRI. General linear models (ANCOVA) were performed. Results: Larger neck muscle CSA was associated with less whole brain atrophy (t = 2.86, p = 0.01, partial eta squared 17%). Neck muscle CSA was not associated with other neuroimaging variables or current cognitive ability. Smaller neck muscle CSA was unexpectedly associated with higher prior cognition (t = -2.12, p < 0.05, partial eta squared 10%). Conclusions: In healthy older men, preservation of whole brain volume (i.e. less atrophy) is associated with larger muscle size. Longitudinal ageing studies are now required to investigate these relationships further.
- The brain-in-motion study: effect of a 6-month aerobic exercise intervention on cerebrovascular regulation and cognitive function in older adults
Background: Aging and physical inactivity are associated with declines in some cognitive domains and cerebrovascular function, as well as an elevated risk of cerebrovascular disease and other morbidities. With the increase in the number of sedentary older Canadians, promoting healthy brain aging is becoming an increasingly important population health issue. Emerging research suggests that higher levels of physical fitness at any age are associated with better cognitive functioning and this may be mediated, at least in part, by improvements in cerebrovascular reserve. We are currently conducting a study to determine: if a structured 6-month aerobic exercise program is associated with improvements or maintenance of both cerebrovascular function and cognitive abilities in older individuals; and, the extent to which any changes seen persist 6 months after the completion of the structured exercise program. Methods: 250 men and women aged 55--80 years are being enrolled into an 18-month combined quasi-experimental and prospective cohort study. Participants are eligible for enrollment into the study if they are inactive (i.e., not participating in regular physical activity), non-smokers, have a body mass index <35.0 kg/m2, are free of significant cognitive impairment (defined as a Montreal Cognitive Assessment score of 24 or more), and do not have clinically significant cardiovascular, cerebrovascular disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary airway disease. Repeated measurements are done during three sequential six-month phases: 1) pre-intervention; 2) aerobic exercise intervention; and 3) post-intervention. These outcomes include: cardiorespiratory fitness, resting cerebral blood flow, cerebrovascular reserve, and cognitive function.DiscussionThis is the first study to our knowledge that will examine contemporaneously the effect of an exercise intervention on both cerebrovascular reserve and cognition in an older population. This study will further our understanding of whether cerebrovascular mechanisms might explain how exercise promotes healthy brain aging. In addition our study will address the potential of increasing physical activity to prevent age-associated cognitive decline.
- Prevalence and socioeconomic correlates of chronic morbidity among elderly people in Kosovo: a population-based survey
Background: Our aim was to assess the prevalence and demographic and socioeconomic correlates of chronic morbidity in the elderly population of transitional Kosovo. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Kosovo in 2011 including a representative sample of 1890 individuals aged >=65 years (949 men, mean age 73 +/- 6 years; 941 women, mean age 74 +/- 7 years; response rate: 83%). A structured questionnaire inquired about the presence and the number of self-reported chronic diseases among elderly people, and their access to medical care. Demographic and socioeconomic data were also collected. Binary logistic regression was used to assess the association of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics with chronic conditions. Results: In this nationwide population-based sample in Kosovo, 42% of elderly people were unable to access medical care, of whom 88% due to unaffordable costs. About 83% of the elderly people reported at least one chronic condition (63% cardiovascular diseases), and 45% had at least two chronic diseases. In multivariable-adjusted models, factors associated with the presence of chronic conditions and/or multimorbidity were female sex, older age, self-perceived poverty and the inability to access medical care. Conclusion: This study provides important evidence on the magnitude and distribution of chronic conditions among the elderly population of Kosovo. Our findings suggest that, in this sample of elderly people from Kosovo, the oldest-old (especially women) and the poor endure the vast majority of chronic conditions. These findings point to the urgent need to establish a social health insurance scheme including the marginalized segments of elderly people in this transitional country.
- The minimal clinically important difference of six-minute walk in Asian older adults
Background: Rehabilitation interventions promote functional recovery among frail older adults and little is known about the clinical significance of physical outcome measure changes. The purpose of our study is to examine the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for the 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) among frail Asian older adults. Methods: Data from the "Evaluation of the Frails' Fall Efficacy by Comparing Treatments" study were analyzed. Distribution-based and anchor-based methods were used to estimate the MCID of the 6MWD. Participants who completed the trial rated their perceived change of overall health on the Global Rating of Change (GROC) scale. The receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) was used to analyze the sensitivity and specificity of the cut-off values of 6MWD (in meters) for GROC rating of "a little bit better" (+2), based on feedback from participants. Results: The mean (SD) change in 6MWD was 37.3(46.2) m among those who perceived a change (GROC >= 2), while those who did not was 9.3(18.2) m post-intervention (P = 0.011). From the anchor-based method, the MCID value for the 6MWD was 17.8 m (sensitivity 56.7% and specificity 83.3%) while distribution-based method estimated 12.9 m. Conclusion: The MCID estimate for 6MWD was 17.8 m in the moderately frail Asian older adults with a fear of falling. The results will aid the clinicians in goal setting for this patient population.Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number: ACTRN12610000576022
- Validation of a questionnaire for assessing fecal impaction in the elderly: impact of cognitive impairment, and using a proxy
Background: Studies on the epidemiology of fecal impaction are limited by the absence of a valid and reliable instrument to identify the condition in the elderly. Our aim is to validate a questionnaire for identifying fecal impaction in the elderly and to assess the impact of cognitive impairment and the aid of a proxy on its reliability. Methods: We developed a 5 questions' questionnaire. The questionnaire was presented to twenty doctors to test its face validity. Feasibility was pre-tested with ten non institutionalized subjects who completed the questionnaire twice, once alone or with the help of a proxy, and another along with the researcher.For the validation of the questionnaire all residents in a single nursing-home were invited to participate, allowing the self-decision of using a proxy. Medical records of all subjects were abstracted without knowledge of subjects' answers and agreement between fecal impaction according to self-reported and medical records analyzed. Physical impairment was measured with the Barthel's test and cognitive impairment with the mini-mental test. Results: In the face validity only minor changes in wording were suggested. In the feasibility pre-test all subjects were able to understand and complete the questionnaire and all questions were considered appropriate and easily understandable.One-hundred and ninety-nine of the 244 residents participated in the study (mean age 86,1 +/- 6,6). One hundred and forty two subjects understood all questions; not understanding them was inversely associated with cognitive impairment score (aOR: 0.86; 95%CI: 0.82-0.91). One hundred and sixty decided to use a proxy; the use of a proxy was inversely associated with educative level (0.13 (0.02-0.72), minimental's score (0.85; 0.76-0.95) and Barthel's score (0.96; 0.94-0.99). Agreement between medical records and self-completed questionnaire was 85.9% (kappa 0.72 (0,62- 0,82). Disagreement was unrelated to education and cognitive impairment. Conclusions: Our simple questionnaire is reliable for identifying fecal impaction in the elderly by self-report. Limitation imposed by cognitive impairment is minimized with the aid of a proxy.
- Secular reduction of excess mortality in hip fracture patients >85 years
Background: More than 20% of the hip fracture patients die within the first year after the incident. Few data are available on the trends in mortality following a hip fracture. The present aim was to study changes in excess mortality after hip fracture from 1978/79 up to 1996/97. Methods: Data on 5180 hip fracture patients aged >= 50 years, identified in three earlier, well validated, incidence studies from Oslo were used. The studies took place in the two years periods 1978--79 and 1989--89 and in a one year period from 1st of May 1996 to 30th of April 1997. The study was designed as a historic cohort study. Exposure was sustaining a hip fracture in the registration periods. Outcome was death of all causes. Age- and sex-specific one year-mortality rates were provided by Statistics Norway. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) were calculated for the three cohorts for each sex and age-group, for the 0--6 months, 6--12 months, 0--1 year, 1--5 years and 5--10 years intervals after fracture. To assess the duration of the excess mortality in hip fracture patients, time-framed Kaplan-Meier curves for consecutive 5-years intervals were conducted for the hip fracture patients and the corresponding background population. Only patients still alive at the start of the time interval were included. One sample log rank tests were used to test for statistical significance. Results: The one-year SMR ranged from 3.64 (2.82 -- 4.61) to 4.53 (3.67 -- 5.54) in men and from 2.78 (2.39 -- 3.19) to 3.60 (3.19 -- 4.05) in women. In the 0--6 months interval a reduction in SMR from 1978/79 to 1996/97 was observed in women aged >=85 years. The duration of excess mortality ranged from two years in men >=85 years to more than ten years in men and women aged 65--84 years. Conclusion: Excess mortality among hip fracture patients remains high. Over the decades, a reduced excess mortality was mainly seen in the oldest patients, suggesting that specific efforts intending to improve prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in the youngest elderly are required.
- Nutritional status among older residents with dementia in open versus special care units in municipal nursing homes: an observational study
Background: Undernutrition is widespread among institutionalised elderly, and people suffering from dementia are at particularly high risk. Many elderly with dementia live in open units or in special care units in nursing homes. It is not known whether special care units have an effect on the nutritional status of the residents. The aim of this study was therefore to examine the nutritional status of residents with dementia in both open units and in special care units. Methods: Among Oslo's 29 municipal nursing homes, 21 participated with 358 residents with dementia or cognitive impairment, of which 46% lived in special care units. Nutritional status was assessed using the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool and anthropometry. Results: We found no differences (p > 0.05) in risk of undernutrition, body mass index, mid-upper arm muscle circumference or triceps skinfold thickness between residents in open units and those in special care units. Residents in special care units were significantly younger and stronger when measured with a hand-grip test. Conclusions: We found no difference in nutritional status between nursing home residents with dementia/cognitive impairment in open units versus in special care units.
- Effectiveness of a multifactorial falls prevention program in community-dwelling older people when compared to usual care: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial (Prevquedas Brazil)
Background: Falling in older age is a major public health concern due to its costly and disabling consequences. However very few randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have been conducted in developing countries, in which population ageing is expected to be particularly substantial in coming years. This article describes the design of an RCT to evaluate the effectiveness of a multifactorial falls prevention program in reducing the rate of falls in community-dwelling older people. Methods: Multicentre parallel-group RCT involving 612 community-dwelling men and women aged 60 years and over, who have fallen at least once in the previous year. Participants will be recruited in multiple settings in Sao Paulo, Brazil and will be randomly allocated to a control group or an intervention group. The usual care control group will undergo a fall risk factor assessment and be referred to their clinicians with the risk assessment report so that individual modifiable risk factors can be managed without any specific guidance. The intervention group will receive a 12-week Multifactorial Falls Prevention Program consisting of: an individualised medical management of modifiable risk factors, a group-based, supervised balance training exercise program plus an unsupervised home-based exercise program, an educational/behavioral intervention. Both groups will receive a leaflet containing general information about fall prevention strategies. Primary outcome measures will be the rate of falls and the proportion of fallers recorded by monthly falls diaries and telephone calls over a 12 month period. Secondary outcomes measures will include risk of falling, fall-related self-efficacy score, measures of balance, mobility and strength, fall-related health services use and independence with daily tasks. Data will be analysed using the intention-to-treat principle.The incidence of falls in the intervention and control groups will be calculated and compared using negative binomial regression analysis.DiscussionThis study is the first trial to be conducted in Brazil to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention to prevent falls. If proven to reduce falls this study has the potential to benefit older adults and assist health care practitioners and policy makers to implement and promote effective falls prevention interventions.Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01698580)
- The meaning and importance of dignified care: findings from a survey of health and social care professionals
Background: There are well established national and local policies championing the need to provide dignity in care for older people. We have evidence as to what older people and their relatives understand by the term 'dignified care' but less insight into the perspectives of staff regarding their understanding of this key policy objective. Methods: A survey of health and social care professionals across four NHS Trusts in England to investigate how dignified care for older people is understood and delivered. We received 192 questionnaires of the 650 distributed. Results: Health and social care professionals described the meaning of dignified care in terms of their relationships with patients: 'respect' (47%), 'being treated as an individual' (40%), 'being involved in decision making' (26%) and 'privacy' (24%). 'Being treated as an individual' and 'maintaining privacy' were ranked as the most important components of dignified care. Physical caring tasks such as 'helping with washing, dressing and feeding' were rarely described as being part of dignified care and attributed much less importance than the relational components. Conclusion: Dignity in care is a concept with multiple meanings. Older people and their relatives focus upon the importance of providing physical care when describing what this means to them. Our participants focussed upon the relational aspects of care delivery rather than care itself. Proactive measures are therefore required to ensure that the physical aspects of care are met for all older people receiving care in NHS trusts.
- Teaching and learning about dementia in UK medical schools: a national survey
Background: Dementia is an increasingly common condition and all doctors, in both primary and secondary care environments, must be prepared to competently manage patients with this condition. It is unclear whether medical education about dementia is currently fit for purpose. This project surveys and evaluates the nature of teaching and learning about dementia for medical students in the UK Methods: Electronic questionnaire sent to UK medical schools Results: 23/31 medical schools responded. All provided some dementia-specific teaching but this focussed more on knowledge and skills than behaviours and attitudes. Only 80% of schools described formal assessment of dementia-specific learning outcomes. There was a widespread failure to adequately engage the multidisciplinary team, patients and carers in teaching, presenting students with a narrow view of the condition. However, some innovative approaches were also highlighted. Conclusions: Although all schools taught about dementia, the deficiencies identified represent a failure to sufficiently equip medical students to care for patients with dementia which, given the prevalence of the condition, does not adequately prepare them for work as doctors. Recommendations for improving undergraduate medical education about dementia are outlined.
- A preliminary study of aged care facility staff indicates limitations in awareness of the link between depression and physical morbidity
Background: It is important to understand the complex inter-relationship between depression and physical illness in order to plan and provide quality health care services for older persons and reduce suffering and early mortality. This study assessed the awareness and knowledge of age-care staff of the link between physical morbidity and depression. Methods: One hundred and nineteen staff from both residential (high and low care) and community aged care facilities were surveyed on their awareness and knowledge of the relationship between physical morbidity and symptoms of depression. Predictors of levels of knowledge were assessed using multiple regression analysis. Results: Awareness of the link between physical morbidity and symptoms of depression was generally high. However, while nearly eighty percent of respondents said they had had training in mental health, they were only able to answer an average of six out of ten of the knowledge questions correctly. Predictors of knowledge were: age, higher educational status and working in a high care facility. Conclusions: Responses to the survey questions demonstrated gaps in knowledge about the relationship between depression and physical health. The need for regular ongoing training to improve knowledge and awareness of this relationship is indicated. Treatment of physical health issues which is essential in reducing the risk for depression in older persons in aged care environments could be optimized by improved staff training.
- Integrated care for frail elderly compared to usual care: a study protocol of a quasi-experiment on the effects on the frail elderly, their caregivers, health professionals and health care costs
Background: Frail elderly persons living at home are at risk for mental, psychological, and physical deterioration. These problems often remain undetected. If care is given, it lacks the quality and continuity required for their multiple and changing problems. The aim of this project is to improve the quality and efficacy of care given to frail elderly living independently by implementing and evaluating a preventive integrated care model for the frail elderly. Methods: The design is quasi-experimental. Effects will be measured by conducting a before and after study with control group. The experimental group will consist of 220 elderly of 8 GPs (General Practitioners) who will provide care according to the integrated model (The Walcheren Integrated Care Model). The control group will consist of 220 elderly of 6 GPs who will give care as usual. The study will include an evaluation of process and outcome measures for the frail elderly, their caregivers and health professionals as well as a cost-effectiveness analysis. A concurrent mixed methods design will be used. The study population will consist of elderly 75 years or older who live independently and score a 4 or higher on the Groningen Frailty Indicator, their caregivers and health professionals. Data will be collected prospectively at three points in time: T0, T1 (3 months after inclusion), and T2 (12 months after inclusion). Similarities between the two groups and changes over time will be assessed with t-tests and chi-square tests. For each measure regression analyses will be performed with the T2-score as the dependent variable and the T0-score, the research group and demographic variables as independent variables.DiscussionA potential obstacle for this study will be the willingness of the elderly and their caregivers to participate. To increase willingness, the request to participate will be sent via the elders' own GP. Interviewers will be from their local region and gifts will be given. A successful implementation of the integrated model is also necessary. The involved parties are members of a steering group and have contractually committed themselves to the project.Trial registrationCurrent Controlled TrialsISRCTN05748494
- Assessment of vaccine candidates for persons aged 50 and older: a review
Background: The increasing life expectancy in most European countries has resulted in growth of the population 50 and older. This population is more susceptible to infectious diseases because of immunosenescence, co-morbidity and general frailty. Thus, to promote healthy aging, vaccination against vaccine-preventable-diseases could be one strategy. In addition to its possible individual benefits, vaccination may also yield social benefits, such as a lower overall cost of healthcare. Most European countries, however, offer only influenza vaccine although vaccines for pneumococcal disease, herpes zoster, pertussis, and hepatitis A are also available. Our aim is to review the knowledge of these vaccines for persons aged 50 and older and explore the arguments for expanding current vaccination programmes beyond just influenza. Methods: The evaluation model of Kimman et al. was used to assess herpes zoster, pneumococcal disease, pertussis and hepatitis A in terms of four domains: pathogen, vaccine, disease outcomes and cost-effectiveness. The sources were Dutch surveillance systems, seroprevalence studies and the international literature. Results: Herpes zoster, pneumococcal disease and pertussis are prevalent among persons aged 50 and older. Vaccines vary in effectiveness and have mild and self-limiting side effects. Vaccination against pneumococcal disease and pertussis causes adaptation of the responsible pathogen. For pertussis and hepatitis A, the vaccine is not registered specifically for the elderly population. Vaccination against herpes zoster and pertussis could improve quality of life, while vaccination against pneumococcal disease and hepatitis A prevents mortality. However, only vaccination against herpes zoster and pneumococcal disease appear to be cost-effective. Conclusions: Vaccination can improve the health of the elderly population. As our review shows, however, the data are too incomplete to accurately judge its potential impact. More research is needed to determine how vaccination can most effectively improve the health of the growing population 50 years and older.
- Long-term morbidities in stroke survivors: a prospective multicenter study of Thai stroke rehabilitation registry
Background: Stroke-related complications are barriers to patients' recovery leading to increasing morbidity, mortality, and health care costs, decreasing patient's quality of life. The purpose of this study was to quantify incidence and risk factors of stroke-related complications during the first year after discharge from rehabilitation ward. Methods: A prospective observational study was conducted in nine tertiary-care rehabilitation centers. We evaluated the incidence of morbidities during the first year after stroke, including musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, pneumonia, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pressure ulcer, spasticity, shoulder subluxation, joint contracture, dysphagia, urinary incontinence, anxiety and depression. The complications at discharge and at month-12 were compared using the McNemar test. Univariate analysis and multiple logistic regression analysis by forward stepwise method were used to determine factors predicting the complications at month-12. Results: Two hundred and fourteen from 327 patients (65.4%) were included. The age was 62.1 +/- 12.5 years, and 57.9% were male. In 76.8% of the patients at least one complication was found during the first year after stroke. Those complications were musculoskeletal pain (50.7%), shoulder subluxation (29.3%), depression (21.2%), spasticity (18.3%), joint contracture (15.7%) and urinary incontinence (14.4%). Other complications less than 5% were dysphagia (3.5%), pressure ulcer (2.6%), infection (1.5%), and neuropathic pain (3.0%). Nearly 60% of patients with complications at discharge still had the same complaints after one year. Only 7.6% were without any complication. Morbidity was significantly associated with age and type of stroke. Using multiple logistic regression analysis, age and physical complications at discharge were significant risk factors for physical and psychological morbidities after stroke respectively (OR = 2.1, 95%CI 1.2, 3.7; OR = 3.1, 95%CI 1.3, 7.1). Conclusion: Long-term complications are common in stroke survivors. More than three-fourths of the patients developed at least one during the first year after rehabilitation. Strategies to prevent complications should be concerned especially on musculoskeletal pain which was the most common complaint. Physical complications at discharge period associated with psychological complications at 1 year followed up. More attention should be emphasized on patients age older than 60 years who were the major risk group for developing such complications.
- Functional gait rehabilitation in elderly people following a fall-related hip fracture using a treadmill with visual context: design of a randomized controlled trial
Background: Walking requires gait adjustments in order to walk safely in continually changing environments. Gait adaptability is reduced in older adults, and (near) falls, fall-related hip fractures and fear of falling are common in this population. Most falls occur due to inaccurate foot placement relative to environmental hazards, such as obstacles. The C-Mill is an innovative, instrumented treadmill on which visual context (e.g., obstacles) is projected. The C-Mill is well suited to train foot positioning relative to environmental properties while concurrently utilizing the high-intensity practice benefits associated with conventional treadmill training. The present protocol was designed to examine the efficacy of C-Mill gait adaptability treadmill training for improving walking ability and reducing fall incidence and fear of falling relative to conventional treadmill training and usual care. We hypothesize that C-Mill gait adaptability treadmill training and conventional treadmill training result in better walking ability than usual care due to the enhanced training intensity, with superior effects for C-Mill gait adaptability treadmill training on gait adaptability aspects of walking given the concurrent focus on practicing step adjustments. Methods: The protocol describes a parallel group, single-blind, superiority randomized controlled trial with pre-tests, post-tests, retention-tests and follow-up. Hundred-twenty-six older adults with a recent fall-related hip fracture will be recruited from inpatient rehabilitation care and allocated to six weeks of C-Mill gait adaptability treadmill training (high-intensity, adaptive stepping), conventional treadmill training (high-intensity, repetitive stepping) or usual care physical therapy using block randomization, with allocation concealment by opaque sequentially numbered envelopes. Only data collectors are blind to group allocation. Study parameters related to walking ability will be assessed as primary outcome pre-training, post-training, after 4 weeks retention and 12 months follow-up. Secondary study parameters are measures related to fall incidence, fear of falling and general health.DiscussionThe study will shed light on the relative importance of adaptive versus repetitive stepping and practice intensity for effective intervention programs directed at improving walking ability and reducing fall risk and fear of falling in older adults with a recent fall-related hip fracture, which may help reduce future fall-related health-care costs.Trial registration:The Netherlands Trial Register (NTR3222).
- Cancer physicians' attitude towards treatment of the elderly cancer patient in a developed Asian country
Background: With an aging population and an increasing number of elderly patients with cancer, it is essential for us to understand how cancer physicians approach the management and treatment of elderly cancer patients as well as their methods of cancer diagnosis disclosure to older versus younger patients in Singapore, where routine geriatric oncology service is not available. Methods: 57 cancer physicians who are currently practicing in Singapore participated in a written questionnaire survey on attitudes towards management of the elderly cancer patient, which included 2 hypothetical clinical scenarios on treatment choices for a fit elderly patient versus that for a younger patient. Results: The participants comprised of 68% medical oncologists, 18% radiation oncologists, and 14% haematologists. Most physicians (53%) listed performance status (PS) as the top single factor affecting their treatment decision, followed by cancer type (23%) and patient's decision (11%). The top 5 factors were PS (95%), co-morbidities (75%), cancer stage (75%), cancer type (75%), patient's decision (53%), and age (51%). 72% of physicians were less likely to treat a fit but older patient aggressively; 53% and 79% opted for less intensive treatments for older patients in two clinical scenarios of lymphoma and early breast cancer, respectively. 37% of physicians acknowledged that elderly cancer patients were generally under-treated.Only 9% of physicians chose to disclose cancer diagnosis directly to the older patient compared to 61% of physicians to a younger patient, citing family preference as the main reason. Most participants (61%) have never engaged a geriatrician's help in treatment decisions, although the majority (90%) would welcome the introduction of a geriatric oncology programme. Conclusions: Advanced patient age has a significant impact on the cancer physician's treatment decision-making process in Singapore. Many physicians still accede to family members' request and practice non-disclosure of cancer diagnosis to geriatric patients, which may pose as a hurdle to making an informed decision regarding management for the geriatric cancer patients. Having a formal geriatric oncology programme in Singapore could potentially help to optimize the management of geriatric oncology patients.
- The association between serious upper gastrointestinal bleeding and incident bisphosphonate use: a population-based nested cohort study
Background: Oral bisphosphonates are commonly used to prevent / treat osteoporosis. However, bisphosphonate treatment is not without risk and serious adverse effects, including upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB) have been described. We sought to determine if new users of bisphosphonate drugs were more likely to suffer a serious UGIB within 120 days of drug initiation. Methods: This was a population-based nested cohort study utilizing administrative healthcare data in British Columbia, Canada. Community based individuals >= 65 years with a new prescription for a bisphosphonate between 1991 and 2007 were included. A multivariate logistic regression model was used to examine the relationship between older age and the development of a serious UGIB within 120 days of new exposure to oral bisphosphonate drugs. Results: Within the exposure cohort (n = 26,223), 117 individuals had suffered a serious UGIB within 120 days of incident bisphosphonate use. Cases tended to be > 80 years old, and were significantly more likely to have had a past history of gastric ulcer disease, a remote history of serious UGIB, and had been dispensed proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications (p < 0.001 for all comparisons). After adjustment for confounding covariates, those > 80 years were more than twice as likely to suffer a UGIB when compared to those <= 80 years (adjusted OR = 2.03; 95% CI 1.40--2.94). A past history of serious UGIB was the strongest predictor of UGIB within 120 days of incident bisphosphonate use (adjusted OR = 2.28; 95% CI = 1.29--4.03) followed by PPI use (adjusted OR = 2.04; 95% CI = 1.35--3.07). Males were 70% more likely to suffer an UGIB compared to females (adjusted OR = 1.69; 95% CI = 1.05--2.72). Conclusions: Upper GIB is a rare, but serious, side effect of bisphosphonate therapy more often afflicting older individuals. At the same time, concern about potential rare adverse events should not discourage clinicians from prescribing bisphosphonate drugs, particularly in older patients who have already sustained a fragility fracture. Clinicians must remain cognizant of potential adverse events associated with bisphosphonate use and should routinely ask about pre-existing GI disorders and concurrent medication history prior to prescribing these drugs.
- The impact of Medicare prescription drug coverage on the use of antidementia drugs
Background: Cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine are prescribed to slow the progression dementia. Although the efficacy of these drugs has been demonstrated, their effectiveness, from the perspective of patients and caregivers, has been questioned. Little is known about whether the demand for cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine are sensitive to out-of-pocket cost. Using the 2006 implementation of Medicare Part D as a natural experiment, this study examines the impact of changes in drug coverage on use of cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine by comparing use before and after Medicare Part D implementation among older adults who did and did not experience a change in coverage. Methods: Retrospective analyses of claims data from 35,102 community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries in Pennsylvania aged 65 or older. Beneficiaries were continuously enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan from 2004 to 2007. Outcome variables were any use of donepezil (Aricept(R)), galantamine (Razadyne(R)), rivastigmine (Exelon(R)), tacrine (Cognex(R)), or memantine (Namenda(R)) each year and the number of 30-day prescriptions filled for these drugs. Independent variables included type of drug benefit pre--Part D (No coverage, $150 cap, $350 cap, and No cap as the reference group), time period, and their interaction. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to test if there are differences in use by drug class or if beneficiaries with a diagnosis of dementia pre--Part D experienced an increase in use post--Part D. Results: The No coverage group had a 38% increase in the odds ratio of any use of antidementia medications (P = 0.0008) post--Part D relative to the No cap group. All four coverage groups had significant increases in number of 30-day prescriptions (P < 0.001) over the study period. In adjusted models that included the sub-sample with any use pre--Part D, the No coverage group had a 36% increase in prescriptions (P = 0.002) and the $350 cap group had a 15% increase (P = 0.003) after adjusting for trends in the No cap group. Results from the sensitivity analysis for the sub-sample with a diagnosis of dementia pre--Part D show that each group had significant increases in 30-day prescriptions compared to the No cap control group (P < 0.05). Conclusions: Use of cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine in our sample increased and a greater increase in use was observed among Medicare beneficiaries who experienced improvements in drug coverage under Medicare Part D.
- Laxative use and incident falls, fractures and change in bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: results from the Women's Health Initiative
Background: Laxatives are among the most widely used over-the-counter medications in the United States but studies examining their potential hazardous side effects are sparse. Associations between laxative use and risk for fractures and change in bone mineral density [BMD] have not previously been investigated. Methods: This prospective analysis included 161,808 postmenopausal women (8907 users and 151,497 nonusers of laxatives) enrolled in the WHI Observational Study and Clinical Trials. Women were recruited from October 1, 1993, to December 31, 1998, at 40 clinical centers in the United States and were eligible if they were 50 to 79 years old and were postmenopausal at the time of enrollment. Medication inventories were obtained during in-person interviews at baseline and at the 3-year follow-up visit on everyone. Data on self-reported falls (>=2), fractures (hip and total fractures) were used. BMD was determined at baseline and year 3 at 3 of the 40 clinical centers of the WHI. Results: Age-adjusted rates of hip fractures and total fractures, but not for falls were similar between laxative users and non-users regardless of duration of laxative use. The multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios for any laxative use were 1.06 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.10) for falls, 1.02 (95% CI, 0.85-1.22) for hip fractures and 1.01 (95% CI, 0.96-1.07) for total fractures. The BMD levels did not statistically differ between laxative users and nonusers at any skeletal site after 3-years intake. Conclusion: These findings support a modest association between laxative use and increase in the risk of falls but not for fractures. Its use did not decrease bone mineral density levels in postmenopausal women. Maintaining physical functioning, and providing adequate treatment of comorbidities that predispose individuals for falls should be considered as first measures to avoid potential negative consequences associated with laxative use.
- Fish oil administration in older adults: is there potential for adverse events' A systematic review of the literature
Background: Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid supplementation is becoming increasingly popular. However given its antithrombotic properties the potential for severe adverse events (SAE) such as bleeding has safety implications, particularly in an older adult population. A systematic review of randomized control trials (RCT) was conducted to explore the potential for SAE and non-severe adverse events (non-SAE) associated with n-3 supplementation in older adults. Methods: A comprehensive search strategy using Medline and a variety of other electronic sources was conducted. Studies investigating the oral administration of n-3 fish oil containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or both against a placebo were sourced. The primary outcome of interest included reported SAE associated with n-3 supplementation. Chi-square analyses were conducted on the pooled aggregate of AEs. Results: Of the 398 citations initially retrieved, a total of 10 studies involving 994 older adults aged >=60 years were included in the review. Daily fish oil doses ranged from 0.03 g to 1.86 g EPA and/or DHA with study durations ranging from 6 to 52 weeks. No SAE were reported and there were no significant differences in the total AE rate between groups (n-3 intervention group: 53/540; 9.8%; placebo group: 28/454; 6.2%; p = 0.07). Non-SAE relating to gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances were the most commonly reported however there was no significant increase in the proportion of GI disturbances reported in participants randomized to the n-3 intervention (n-3 intervention group: 42/540 (7.8%); placebo group: 24/454 (5.3%); p = 0.18). Conclusions: The potential for AEs appear mild-moderate at worst and are unlikely to be of clinical significance. The use of n-3 fatty acids and the potential for SAE should however be further researched to investigate whether this evidence is consistent at higher doses and in other populations. These results also highlight that well-documented data outlining the potential for SAE following n-3 supplementation are limited nor adequately reported to draw definitive conclusions concerning the safety associated with n-3 supplementation. A more rigorous and systematic approach for monitoring and recording AE data in clinical settings that involve n-3 supplementation is required.
VOL 10 NUMBER 2010
- Comparison of hemodynamic and nutritional parameters between older persons practicing regular physical activity, nonsmokers and ex-smokers
Background: Sedentary lifestyle combined with smoking, contributes to the development of a set of chronic diseases and to accelerating the course of aging. The aim of the study was to compare the hemodynamic and nutritional parameters between elderly persons practicing regular physical activity, nonsmokers and ex-smokers. Methods: The sample was comprised of 40 elderly people practicing regular physical activity for 12 months, divided into a Nonsmoker Group and an Ex-smoker Group. During a year four trimestrial evaluations were performed, in which the hemodynamic (blood pressure, heart rate- HR and VO2) and nutritional status (measured by body mass index) data were collected. The paired t-test and t-test for independent samples were applied in the intragroup and intergroup analysis, respectively. Results: The mean age of the groups was 68.35 years, with the majority of individuals in the Nonsmoker Group being women (n=15) and the Ex-smoker Group composed of men (n=11). In both groups the variables studied were within the limits of normality for the age. HR was diminished in the Nonsmoker Group in comparison with the Ex-smoker Group (p=0.045) between the first and last evaluation. In the intragroup analysis it was verified that after one year of exercise, there was significant reduction in the HR in the Nonsmoker Group (p=0.002) and a significant increase in VO2 for the Ex-smoker Group (p=0.010). There are no significant differences between the hemodynamic and nutritional conditions in both groups. Conclusion: In elderly persons practicing regular physical activity, it was observed that the studied variables were maintained over the course of a year, and there was no association with the history of smoking, except for HR and VO2.
- Characteristics of general practice care: What do senior citizens value' A qualitative study.
Background: In view of the increasing number of senior citizens in our society who are likely to consult their GP with age-related health problems, it is important to identify and understand the preferences of this group in relation to the non-medical attributes of GP care. The aim of this study is to improve our understanding about preferences of this group of patients in relation to non-medical attributes of primary health care. This may help to develop strategies to improve the quality of care that senior citizens receive from their GP. Methods: Semi-structured interviews (N=13) with senior citizens ( 65-91 years) in a judgement sample were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The analysis was conducted according to qualitative research methodology and the frame work method. Results: Continuity of care providers, i.e. GP and practice nurses, GPs' expertise, trust, free choice of GP and a kind open attitude were highly valued. Accessibility by phone did not meet the expectations of the interviewees. The interviewees had difficulties with the GP out-of-office hours services. Spontaneous home visits were appreciated by some, but rejected by others. They preferred to receive verbal information rather than collecting information from leaflets. Distance to the practice and continuity of caregiver seemed to conflict for respondents. Conclusions: Preferences change in the process of ageing and growing health problems. GPs and their coworkers should be also aware of the changing needs of the elderly regarding non-medical attributes of GP care. Meeting their needs regarding non-medical attributes of primary health care is important to improve the quality of care.
- The differential impact of subjective and objective aspects of social engagement on cardiovascular risk factors
Background: This article provides new insights into the impact of social engagement on CVD risk factors in older adults. We hypothesized that objective (social participation, social ties and marital status) and subjective (emotional support) aspects of social engagement are independently associated with objective measures of cardiovascular risk. Methods: Data from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ELSA) were analyzed. The effects of social participation, social ties, marital status and emotional support on hypertension, obesity, high sensitivity C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen were estimated by logistic regression controlling for age, sex, education, physical function, depression, cardiovascular disease, other chronic diseases, physical activity and smoking. Results: Social participation is a consistent predictor of low risk for four risk factors, even after controlling for a wide range of covariates. Being married is associated with lower risk for hypertension. Social ties and emotional support are not significantly associated with any of the cardiovascular risk factors. Conclusion: Our analysis suggests that participation in social activities has a stronger association with CV risk factors than marital status, social ties or emotional support. Different forms of social engagement may therefore have different implications for the biological risk factors involved.
- How can we improve targeting of frail elderly patients to a Geriatric Day-Hospital rehabilitation program'
Background: The optimal patient selection of frail elderly persons undergoing rehabilitation in Geriatric Day Hospital (GDH) programs remains uncertain. This study was done to identify potential predictors of rehabilitation outcomes for these patients. Methods: This study is a retrospective cohort analysis of patients admitted to the rehabilitation program of our GDH, in Montreal, Canada, over a five year period. The measures considered were: Barthel Index, Older Americans Resources and Services, Folstein Mini Mental Status Exam, Timed Up & Go (TUG), 6-minute walk test (6MWT), Gait speed, Berg Balance, grip strength and the European Quality of life - 5 Dimensions. Successful improvement with rehabilitation was defined as improvement in three or more tests of physical function. Logistic regression analysis using the Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) was employed to select the optimal model for making predictions of rehabilitation success. Results: A total of 335 patients were studied, but only 233 patients had a complete data set suitable for the predictive model. Average age was 81 years and patients attended the GDH an average of 24 visits. Significant changes were found in several measures of physical performance for many patients ranging from improved gait speed in 21.3% to improved TUG in 62.7% of the cohort. Fifty-eight percent of patients attained successful improvement with rehabilitation by our criteria. This group was characterized by lower test scores on admission. Using BIC, the best predictor model was the 6MWT [OR: 0.994 per metre walked (95% CI: 0.990-0.997)]. Conclusions: The GDH rehabilitation program is effective in improving patients' physical performance. Although no single measure was found to be sufficiently predictive to help target candidates appropriately, the 6MWT showed a trend to significance. Further research will be done to elucidate the utility of a composite 'rehab appropriateness index' and the role of International Classification of Function concepts for targeting frail elderly to GDH rehabilitation services.
- Use of health services and medicines amongst Australian war veterans: a comparison of young elderly, near centenarians and centenarians
Background: Age and life expectancy of residents in many developed countries, including Australia, is increasing. Health resource and medicine use in the very old is not well studied. The purpose of this study was to identify annual use of health services and medicines by very old Australian veterans; those aged 95 to 99 years (near centenarians) and those aged 100 years and over (centenarians). Methods: The study population included veterans eligible for all health services subsidised by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) aged 95 years and over at August 1st 2006. A cohort of veterans aged 65 to 74 years was identified for comparison. Data were sourced from DVA claims databases. We identified all claims between August 1st 2006 and July 31st 2007 for medical consultations, pathology, diagnostic imaging and allied health services, hospital admissions, number of prescriptions and unique medicines. Chi squared tests were used to compare the proportion of centenarians (those aged 100 years and over) and near centenarians (those aged 95 to 99 years) who accessed medicines and health services with the 65 to 74 year age group. For those who accessed health services during follow up, Poisson regression was used to compare differences in the number of times centenarians and near centenarians accessed each health service compared to 65 to 74 year olds. Results: A similar proportion (98%) of centenarians and near centenarians compared to those aged 65 to 74 consulted a GP and received prescription medicine during follow up. A lower proportion of centenarians and near centenarians had claims for specialist visits (36% and 57% respectively), hospitalisation (19% and 24%), dental (12% and 18%), physiotherapy (13% and 15%), pathology(68% and 78%) and diagnostic imaging services (51% and 68%) (p < 0.0001) and a higher proportion had claims for care plans (19% and 25%), occupational therapy (15% and 17%) and podiatry services (54% and 58%) (p < 0.0001). Compared to those aged 65 to 74, a lower proportion of centenarians and near centenarians received antihypertensives, lipid lowering therapy, antiinflammatories, and antidepressants (p < 0.0001) and a higher proportion received antibiotics, analgesics, diuretics, laxatives, and anti-anaemics (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Medical consultations and medicines are the health services most frequently accessed by Australian veteran centenarians and near centenarians. For most health services, the proportion of very old people who access them is similar to or less than younger elderly. Our results support the findings of other studies which suggest that longevity is not necessarily associated with excessive health service use.
VOL 11 NUMBER 2011
- The assessment of renal function in relation to the use of drugs in elderly in nursing homes; a cohort study
Background: Renal function decreases with age. Dosage adjustment according to renal function is indicated for many drugs, in order to avoid adverse reactions of medications and/or aggravation of renal impairment. There are several ways to assess renal function in the elderly, but no way is ideal. The aim of the study was to explore renal function in elderly subjects in nursing homes and the use of pharmaceuticals that may be harmful to patients with renal impairment. Methods: 243 elderly subjects living in nursing homes were included. S-creatinine and s-cystatin c were analysed. Renal function was estimated using Cockcroft-Gault formula, Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) and cystatin C-estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Concomitant medication was registered and four groups of renal risk drugs were identified: metformin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), angiotensin-converting enzyme-inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers and digoxin. Descriptive statistics and the Kappa test for concordance were used. Results: Reduced renal function (cystatin C-estimated GFR <60 ml/min) was seen in 53%. Normal s-creatinine was seen in 41% of those with renal impairment. Renal risk drugs were rather rarely prescribed, with exception for ACE-inhibitors. Poor concordance was seen between the GFR estimates as concluded by other studies. Conclusions: The physician has to be observant on renal function when prescribing medications to the elderly patient and not only rely on s-creatinine level. GFR has to be estimated before prescribing renal risk drugs, but using different estimates may give divergence in the results.
- Home: The place the older adult can not imagine living without
Background: Rapidly aging populations with an increased desire to remain at home and changes in health policy that promote the transfer of health care from formal places, as hospitals and institutions, to the more informal setting of one's home support the need for further research that is designed specifically to understand the experience of home among older adults. Yet, little is known among health care providers about the older adult's experience of home. The aim of this study was to understand the experience of home as experienced by older adults living in a rural community in Sweden. Methods: Hermeneutical interpretation, as developed by von Post and Eriksson and based on Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics, was used to interpret interviews with six older adults. The interpretation included a self examination of the researcher's experiences and prejudices and proceeded through several readings which integrated the text with the reader, allowed new questions to emerge, fused the horizons, summarized main and sub-themes and allowed a new understanding to emerge. Results: Two main and six sub-themes emerged. Home was experienced as the place the older adult could not imagine living without but also as the place one might be forced to leave. The older adult's thoughts vacillated between the well known present and all its comforts and the unknown future with all its questions and fears, including the underlying threat of loosing one's home. Conclusions: Home has become so integral to life itself and such an intimate part of the older adult's being that when older adults lose their home, they also loose the place closest to their heart, the place where they are at home and can maintain their identity, integrity and way of living. Additional effort needs to be made to understand the older adult's experience of home within home health care in order to minimize intrusion and maximize care. There is a need to more fully explore the older adult's experience with health care providers in the home and its impact on the older adult's sense of "being at home" and their health and overall well-being.
- Nursing home care for people with dementia and residents' quality of life, quality of care and staff well-being: Design of the Living Arrangements for people with Dementia (LAD) - study
Background: There is limited information available on how characteristics of the organization of nursing home care and especially group living home care and staff ratio contribute to care staff well being, quality of care and residents' quality of life. Furthermore, it is unknown what the consequences of the increasingly small scale organization of care are for the amount of care staff required in 2030 when there will be much more older people with dementia. Methods: This manuscript describes the design of the 'Living Arrangements for people with Dementia study' (LAD-study). The aim of this study is to include living arrangements from every part of this spectrum, ranging from large scale nursing homes to small group living homes. The LAD-study exists of quantitative and qualitative research. Primary outcomes of the quantitative study are wellbeing of care staff, quality of care and quality of life of residents. Furthermore, data concerning staff ratio and characteristics of the living arrangements such as group living home care characteristics are assessed. To get more in-depth insight into the barriers and facilitators in living arrangements for people with dementia to provide good care, focus groups and Dementia Care Mapping are carried out.DiscussionResults of this study are important for policymakers, directors and staff of living arrangements providing nursing home care to people with dementia and essential for the development of methods to improve quality of care, residents' and staff well-being. Data collection will be repeated every two years, to generate knowledge on the results of changing policies in this field.
- The implementation of the serial trial intervention for pain and challenging behaviour in advanced dementia patients (STA OP!): a clustered randomized controlled trial
Background: Pain (physical discomfort) and challenging behaviour are highly prevalent in nursing home residents with dementia: at any given time 45-80% of nursing home residents are in pain and up to 80% have challenging behaviour. In the USA Christine Kovach developed the serial trial intervention (STI) and established that this protocol leads to less discomfort and fewer behavioural symptoms in moderate to severe dementia patients. The present study will provide insight into the effects of implementation of the Dutch version of the STI-protocol (STA OP!) in comparison with a control intervention, not only on behavioural symptoms, but also on pain, depression, and quality of life. This article outlines the study protocol. Methods: The study is a cluster randomized controlled trial in 168 older people (aged >65 years) with mild or moderate dementia living in nursing homes. The clusters, Dutch nursing homes, are randomly assigned to either the intervention condition (training and implementation of the STA OP!-protocol) or the control condition (general training focusing on challenging behaviour and pain, but without the step-wise approach). Measurements take place at baseline, after 3 months (end of the STA OP! training period) and after 6 months.Primary outcome measures are symptoms of challenging behaviour (measured with the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Nursing Home version (NPI-NH)) and pain (measure with the Dutch version of the Pain Assessment Checklist for Seniors (PACSLAC-D) and the Minimum Data Set of the Resident Assessment Instrument (MDS-RAI) pain scale). Secondary outcome measures include symptoms of depression (Cornell and MDS-RAI depression scale), Quality of Live (Qualidem), changes in prescriptions of analgesics and psychotropic drugs and the use of non-pharmacological comfort interventions (e.g. snoezelen, reminiscence therapy).DiscussionThe transfer from the American design to the Dutch design involved several changes due to the different organisation of healthcare systems. Specific strengths and limitations of the study are discussed.Trial registrationThe study has been registered at the Netherlands National Trial Register (NTR), which is connected to the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform of the WHO. Trial number: NTR 1967.
- A new combined strategy to implement a community occupational therapy intervention: designing a cluster randomized controlled trial
Background: Even effective interventions for people with dementia and their caregivers require specific implementation efforts. A pilot study showed that the highly effective community occupational therapy in dementia (COTiD) program was not implemented optimally due to various barriers. To decrease these barriers and make implementation of the program more effective a combined implementation (CI) strategy was developed. In our study we will compare the effectiveness of this CI strategy with the usual educational (ED) strategy. Methods: In this cluster randomized, single-blinded, controlled trial, each cluster consists of at least two occupational therapists (OTs), a manager, and a physician working at Dutch healthcare organizations that deliver community occupational therapy. Forty-five clusters, stratified by healthcare setting (nursing home, hospital, mental health service), have been allocated randomly to either the intervention group (CI strategy) or the control group (ED strategy). The study population consists of the professionals included in each cluster and community-dwelling people with dementia and their caregivers. The primary outcome measures are the use of community OT, the adherence of OTs to the COTiD program, and the cost effectiveness of implementing the COTiD program in outpatient care. Secondary outcome measures are patient and caregiver outcomes and knowledge of managers, physicians and OTs about the COTiD program.DiscussionImplementation research is fairly new in the field of occupational therapy, making this a unique study. This study does not only evaluate the effects of the CI-strategy on professionals, but also the effects of professionals' degree of implementation on client and caregiver outcomes.Clinical trials registration: NCT01117285
- Dementia as a determinant of social and health service use in the last two years of life 1996-2003
Background: Dementia is one of the most common causes of death among old people in Finland and other countries with high life expectancies. Dementing illnesses are the most important disease group behind the need for long-term care and therefore place a considerable burden on the health and social care system. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of dementia and year of death (1998-2003) on health and social service use in the last two years of life among old people. Methods: The data were derived from multiple national registers in Finland and comprise all those who died in 1998, 2002 or 2003 and 40% of those who died in 1999-2001 at the age of 70 or over (n=145 944). We studied the use of hospitals, long-term care and home care in the last two years of life. Statistics were performed using binary logistic regression analyses and negative binomial regression analyses, adjusting for age, gender and comorbidity. Results: The proportion of study participants with a dementia diagnosis was 23.5%. People with dementia diagnosis used long-term care more often (OR 9.30, 95% CI 8.60, 10.06) but hospital (OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.31, 0.35) and home care (OR 0.50, 95% CI 0.46, 0.54) less often than people without dementia. The likelihood of using university hospital and long-term care increased during the eight-year study period, while the number of days spent in university and general hospital among the users decreased. Differences in service use between people with and without dementia decreased during the study period. Conclusions: Old people with dementia used long-term care to a much greater extent and hospital and home care to a lesser extent than those without dementia. This difference persisted even when controlling for age, gender and comorbidity. It is important that greater attention is paid to ensuring that old people with dementia have equitable access to care.
- Labor force participation in later life: Evidence from a cross-sectional study in Thailand
Background: The labor force participation rate is an important indicator of the state of the labor market and a major input into the economy's potential for creating goods and services. The objectives of this paper are to examine the prevalence of labor force participation among older people in Thailand and to investigate the factors affecting this participation. Methods: The data for this study were drawn from the '2007 Survey of Older Persons' in Thailand. Bivariate analysis was used to identify the factors associated with labor force participation. The variables were further examined using multivariate analysis in order to identify the significant predictors of the likelihood of older people participating in the labor force, after controlling for other variables. Results: Overall, 30,427 elderly people aged 60 or above were interviewed. More than a third (35%) of all respondents had participated in the labor force during the seven days preceding the survey. Respondents who were female (OR=0.56), those who were older (OR=0.47 for 70-79 and 0.21 for 80+ years), those who were widowed/divorced (OR=0.85), those who were living with their children (OR=0.69), those whose family income was relatively low, and those who worked in government sectors (OR=0.33) were less likely to participate in the labor force than were their counterparts. On the other hand, those who lived in urban areas (OR=1.2), those who had a low level of education (OR, secondary level 1.8, primary 2.4, and no schooling 2.5), those who were the head of the household (OR=1.9), and those who were in debt (OR=2.3) were more likely be involved in the labor force than their comparison groups. Furthermore, respondents who experienced greater difficulty in daily living, those who suffered from more chronic diseases, and those who assessed their health as poor were less likely to participate in the labor force than their counterparts. Conclusion: Labor force participation in their advanced years is not uncommon among the Thai elderly. The results suggest that improving the health status of the elderly is necessary in order to encourage their employment. By doing so, the country can fulfill the labor shortage and further improve the economic condition of the nation. The results of this study also suggest that for policies encouraging employment among older persons to succeed, special focus on the rural elderly is necessary.
- Effect of interventions to reduce potentially inappropriate use of drugs in nursing homes: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials
Background: Studies have shown that residents in nursing homes often are exposed to inappropriate medication. Particular concern has been raised about the consumption of psychoactive drugs, which are commonly prescribed for nursing home residents suffering from dementia. This review is an update of a Norwegian systematic review commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. The purpose of the review was to identify and summarise the effect of interventions aimed at reducing potentially inappropriate use or prescribing of drugs in nursing homes. Methods: We searched for systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials in the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, ISI Web of Knowledge, DARE and HTA, with the last update in April 2010. Two of the authors independently screened titles and abstracts for inclusion or exclusion. Data on interventions, participants, comparison intervention, and outcomes were extracted from the included studies. Risk of bias and quality of evidence were assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Table and GRADE, respectively. Outcomes assessed were use of or prescribing of drugs (primary) and the health-related outcomes falls, physical limitation, hospitalization and mortality (secondary). Results: Due to heterogeneity in interventions and outcomes, we employed a narrative approach. Twenty randomised controlled trials were included from 1631 evaluated references. Ten studies tested different kinds of educational interventions while seven studies tested medication reviews by pharmacists. Only one study was found for each of the interventions geriatric care teams, early psychiatric intervening or activities for the residents combined with education of health care personnel. Several reviews were identified, but these either concerned elderly in general or did not satisfy all the requirements for systematic reviews. Conclusions: Interventions using educational outreach, on-site education given alone or as part of an intervention package and pharmacist medication review may under certain circumstances reduce inappropriate drug use, but the evidence is of low quality. Due to poor quality of the evidence, no conclusions may be drawn about the effect of the other three interventions on drug use, or of either intervention on health-related outcomes.
- Analysis of frailty and survival from late middle age in the Beijing Longitudinal Study of Aging
Background: Frailty in individuals can be operationalized as the accumulation of health deficits, for which several trends have been observed in Western countries. Less is known about deficit accumulation in China, the country with the world's largest number of older adults. Methods: This study analyzed data from the Beijing Longitudinal Study of Aging, to evaluate the relationship between age and deficit accumulation in men and women and to evaluate the impact of frailty on mortality. Community dwelling people aged 55+ years at baseline (n=3275) were followed every two to three years between 1992 and 2000, during which time 36% died. A Frailty Index was constructed using 35 deficits, drawn from a range of health problems, including symptoms, disabilities, disease, and psychological difficulties. Results: Most deficits increased the risk of eight-year death and were more lethal in men than in women, although women had a higher level of frailty (mean=0.11 for men, mean=0.14 for women). The Frailty Index increased exponentially with age, with a similar rate in men and women (0.038 vs. 0.039; r>0.949, P<0.01). A dose-response relationship was observed as frailty increased. Conclusions: A Frailty Index employed in a Chinese sample showed properties comparable with Western data, but deficit accumulation appeared to be more lethal than in the West.
- Effect of in-hospital comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) in older people with hip fracture.
The protocol of the Trondheim Hip Fracture Trial.
Background: Hip fractures in older people are associated with high morbidity, mortality, disability and reduction in quality of life. Traditionally people with hip fracture are cared for in orthopaedic departments without additional geriatric assessment. However, studies of postoperative rehabilitation indicate improved efficiency of multidisciplinary geriatric rehabilitation as compared to traditional care. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) aims to investigate whether an additional comprehensive geriatric assessment of hip fracture patients in a special orthogeriatric unit during the acute in-hospital phase may improve outcomes as compared to treatment as usual in an orthopaedic unit.Methods/design: The intervention of interest, a comprehensive geriatric assessment is compared with traditional care in an orthopaedic ward. The study includes 401 home-dwelling older persons >70 years of age, previously able to walk 10 meters and now treated for hip fracture at St. Olav Hospital, Trondheim, Norway. The participants are enrolled and randomised during the stay in the Emergency Department. Primary outcome measure is mobility measured by the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) at 4 months after surgery. Secondary outcomes measured at 1, 4 and 12 months postoperatively are place of residence, activities of daily living, balance and gait, falls and fear of falling, quality of life and depressive symptoms, as well as use of health care resources and survival.DiscussionWe believe that the design of the study, the randomisation procedure and outcome measurements will be of sufficient strength and quality to evaluate the impact of comprehensive geriatric assessment on mobility and other relevant outcomes in hip fracture patients.Trials registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00667914
- Study of Mental Activity and Regular Training (SMART) in at risk individuals: A randomised double blind, sham controlled, longitudinal trial
Background: The extent to which mental and physical exercise may slow cognitive decline in adults with early signs of cognitive impairment is unknown. This article provides the rationale and methodology of the first trial to investigate the isolated and combined effects of cognitive training (CT) and progressive resistance training (PRT) on general cognitive function and functional independence in older adults with early cognitive impairment: Study of Mental and Regular Training (SMART). Our secondary aim is to quantify the differential adaptations to these interventions in terms of brain morphology and function, cardiovascular and metabolic function, exercise capacity, psychological state and body composition, to identify the potential mechanisms of benefit and broader health status effects. Methods: SMART is a double-blind randomized, double sham-controlled trial. One hundred and thirty-two community-dwelling volunteers will be recruited. Primary inclusion criteria are: at risk for cognitive decline as defined by neuropsychology assessment, low physical activity levels, stable disease, and age over 55 years. The two active interventions are computerized CT and whole body, high intensity PRT. The two sham interventions are educational videos and seated calisthenics. Participants are randomized into 1 of 4 supervised training groups (2d/wk x 6 mo) in a fully factorial design. Primary outcomes measured at baseline, 6, and 18 months are the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-Cog), neuropsychological test scores, and Bayer Informant Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (B-IADLs). Secondary outcomes are psychological well-being, quality of life, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal function, body composition, insulin resistance, systemic inflammation and anabolic/neurotrophic hormones, and brain morphology and function via Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Spectroscopy (fMRS). Conclusion: SMART will provide a novel evaluation of the immediate and long term benefits of CT, PRT, and combined CT and PRT on global cognitive function and brain morphology, as well as potential underlying mechanisms of adaptation in older adults at risk of further cognitive decline.Trial Registration: ANZCTR Reference No. 83075 and ACTN registry no. Protocol No: X08-0064
- Are old-old patients with major depression more likely to relapse than young-old patients during continuation treatment with escitalopram'
Background: Escitalopram has shown efficacy and tolerability in the prevention of relapse in elderly patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). This post-hoc analysis compared time to relapse for young-old patients (n=197) to that for old-old patients (n=108).MethodRelapse prevention: after 12-weeks open-label treatment, remitters (MADRS 12) were randomised to double-blind treatment with escitalopram or placebo and followed over 24-weeks. Patients were outpatients with MDD from 46 European centers aged [greater than or equal to] 75 years (old-old) or 65-74 years of age (young-old), treated with escitalopram 10-20mg/day. Efficacy was assessed using the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Results: After open-label escitalopram treatment, a similar proportion of young-old patients (78%) and old-old patients (72%) achieved remission. In the analysis of time to relapse based on the Cox model (proportional hazards regression), with treatment and age group as covariates, the hazard ratio was 4.4 for placebo versus escitalopram (2-test, df=1, 2=22.5, p<0.001), whereas the effect of age was not significant, with a hazard ratio of 1.2 for old-old versus young-old (2-test, df=1, 2= 0.41, p=0.520). Escitalopram was well tolerated in both age groups with adverse events reported by 53.1% of young-old patients and 58.3% of old-old patients. There was no significant difference in withdrawal rates due to AEs between age groups (2-test, 2=1.669, df=1, p=0.196). Conclusions: Young-old and old-old patients with MDD had comparable rates of remission after open-label escitalopram, and both age groups had much lower rates of relapse on escitalopram than on placebo.
- Quality of life of residents with dementia in long-term care settings in the Netherlands and Belgium: design of a longitudinal comparative study in traditional nursing homes and small-scale living facilities
Background: The increase in the number of people with dementia will lead to greater demand for residential care. Currently, large nursing homes are trying to transform their traditional care for residents with dementia to a more home-like approach, by developing small-scale living facilities. It is often assumed that small-scale living will improve the quality of life of residents with dementia. However, little scientific evidence is currently available to test this. The following research question is addressed in this study: Which (combination of) changes in elements affects (different dimensions of) the quality of life of elderly residents with dementia in long-term care settings over the course of one year?Methods/design: A longitudinal comparative study in traditional and small-scale long-term care settings, which follows a quasi-experimental design, will be carried out in Belgium and the Netherlands. To answer the research question, a model has been developed which incorporates relevant elements influencing quality of life in long-term care settings. Validated instruments will be used to evaluate the role of these elements, divided into environmental characteristics (country, type of ward, group size and nursing staff); basic personal characteristics (age, sex, cognitive decline, weight and activities of daily living); behavioural characteristics (behavioural problems and depression); behavioural interventions (use of restraints and use of psychotropic medication); and social interaction (social engagement and visiting frequency of relatives). The main outcome measure for residents in the model is quality of life. Data are collected at baseline, after six and twelve months, from residents living in either small-scale or traditional care settings.DiscussionThe results of this study will provide an insight into the determinants of quality of life for people with dementia living in traditional and small-scale long-term care settings in Belgium and the Netherlands. Possible relevant strengths and weaknesses of the study are discussed in this article.Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN23772945
- Capability and dependency in the Newcastle 85+ cohort study. Projections of future care needs
Background: Little is known of the capabilities of the oldest old, the fastest growing age group in the population. We aimed to estimate capability and dependency in a cohort of 85 year olds and to project future demand for care. Methods: Structured interviews at age 85 with 841 people living in Newcastle and North Tyneside, UK and permanently registered with participating general practices who were born in 1921. Measures of capability included were self-reported activities of daily living (ADL), timed up and go test (TUG), standardised mini-mental state examination (SMMSE), and assessment of urinary continence in order to classify interval-need dependency. To project future demand for care the proportion needing 24-hour care was applied to the 2008 England and Wales population projections of those aged 80 years and over by gender. Results: Of participants, 62% (522/841) were women, 77% (651/841) lived in standard housing, 13% (106/841) in sheltered housing and 10% (84/841) in a care home. Overall, 20% (165/841) reported no difficulty with any of the ADLs. Men were more capable in performing ADLs and more independent than women. TUG validated self-reported ADLs. When classified by 'interval of need' 41% (332/810) were independent, 39% (317/810) required help less often than daily, 12% (94/810) required help at regular times of the day and 8% (67/810) required 24-hour care. Of care-home residents, 94% (77/82) required daily help or 24-hour care. Future need for 24-hour care for people aged 80 years or over in England and Wales is projected to increase by 82% from 2010 to 2030 with a demand for 630,000 care-home places by 2030. Conclusions: This analysis highlights the diversity of capability and levels of dependency in this cohort. A remarkably high proportion remain independent, particularly men. However a significant proportion of this population require 24-hour care at home or in care homes. Projections for the next 20 years suggest substantial increases in the number requiring 24-hour care due to population ageing and a proportionate increase in demand for care-home places unless innovative health and social care interventions are found.
- Age, gender and disability predict future disability in older people: the Rotterdam Study
Background: To develop a prediction model that predicts disability in community-dwelling older people. Insight in the predictors of disability is needed to target preventive strategies for people at increased risk. Methods: Data were obtained from the Rotterdam Study, including subjects of 55 years and over. Subjects who had complete data for sociodemographic factors, life style variables, health conditions, disability status at baseline and complete data for disability at follow-up were included in the analysis. Disability was expressed as a Disability Index (DI) measured with the Health Assessment Questionnaire.We used a multivariable polytomous logistic regression to derive a basic prediction model and an extended prediction model. Finally we developed readily applicable score charts for the calculation of outcome probabilities. Results: Of the 5027 subjects included, 49% had no disability, 18% had mild disability, 16% had severe disability and 18% had deceased at follow-up after six years. The strongest predictors were age and prior disability. The contribution of other predictors was relatively small. The discriminative ability of the basic model was high; the extended model did not enhance predictive ability. Conclusion: As prior disability status predicts future disability status, interventive strategies should be aimed at preventing disability in the first place.
- Operationalizing frailty among older residents of assisted living facilities.
Background: Frailty in later life is viewed as a state of heightened vulnerability to poor outcomes. The utility of frailty as a measure of vulnerability in the assisted living (AL) population remains unexplored. We examined the feasibility and predictive accuracy of two different interpretations of the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) frailty criteria in a population-based sample of AL residents. Methods: CHS frailty criteria were operationalized using two different approaches in 928 AL residents from the Alberta Continuing Care Epidemiological Studies (ACCES). Risks of one-year mortality and hospitalization were estimated for those categorized as frail or pre-frail (compared with non-frail). The prognostic significance of individual criteria was explored, and the area under the ROC curve (AUC) was calculated for select models to assess the utility of frailty in predicting one-year outcomes. Results: Regarding feasibility, complete CHS criteria could not be assessed for 40% of the initial 1,067 residents. Consideration of supplementary items for select criteria reduced this to 12%. Using absolute (CHS-specified) cut-points, 48% of residents were categorized as frail and were at greater risk for death (adjusted risk ratio [RR] 1.75, 95% CI 1.08-2.83) and hospitalization (adjusted RR 1.54, 95% CI 1.20-1.96). Pre-frail residents defined by absolute cut-points (48.6%) showed no increased risk for mortality or hospitalization compared with non-frail residents. Using relative cut-points (derived from AL sample), 19% were defined as frail and 55% as pre-frail and the associated risks for mortality and hospitalization varied by sex. Frail (but not pre-frail) women were more likely to die (RR 1.58 95% CI 1.02-2.44) and be hospitalized (RR 1.53 95% CI 1.25-1.87). Frail and pre-frail men showed an increased mortality risk (RR 3.21 95% CI 1.71-6.00 and RR 2.61 95% CI 1.40-4.85, respectively) while only pre-frail men had an increased risk of hospitalization (RR 1.58 95% CI 1.15-2.17). Although incorporating either frailty measure improved the performance of predictive models, the best AUCs were 0.702 for mortality and 0.633 for hospitalization. Conclusions: Application of the CHS criteria for frailty was problematic and only marginally improved the prediction of select adverse outcomes in AL residents. Development and validation of alternative approaches for detecting frailty in this population, including consideration of female/male differences, is warranted.
- Continuum of care for frail elderly people: Design of a randomized controlled study of a multi-professional and multidimensional intervention targeting frail elderly people.
Background: Frail elderly people need an integrated and coordinated care. The two-armed study "Continuum of care for frail elderly people" is a multi-professional and multidimensional intervention for frail community-dwelling elderly people. It was designed to evaluate whether the intervention programme for frail elderly people can reduce the number of visits to hospital, increase satisfaction with health and social care and maintain functional abilities. The implementation process is explored and analysed along with the intervention. In this paper we present the study design, the intervention and the outcome measures as well as the baseline characteristics of the study participants.Methods/design: The study is a randomised two-armed controlled trial with follow ups at 3, 6 and 12 months. The study group includes elderly people who sought care at the emergency ward and discharged to their own homes in the community. Inclusion criteria were 80 years and older or 65 to 79 years with at least one chronic disease and dependent in at least one activity of daily living. Exclusion criteria were acute severely illness with an immediate need of the assessment and treatment by a physician, severe cognitive impairment and palliative care. The intention was that the study group should comprise a representative sample of frail elderly people at a high risk of future health care consumption. The intervention includes an early geriatric assessment, early family support, a case manager in the community with a multi-professional team and the involvement of the elderly people and their relatives in the planning process.DiscussionThe design of the study, the randomisation procedure and the protocol meetings were intended to ensure the quality of the study. The implementation of the intervention programme is followed and analysed throughout the whole study, which enables us to generate knowledge on the process of implementing complex interventions. The intervention contributes to early recognition of both the elderly peoples' needs of information, care and rehabilitation and of informal caregivers' need of support and information. This study is expected to show positive effects on frail elderly peoples' health care consumption, functional abilities and satisfaction with health and social care.Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01260493
- Impact of a multifaceted program to prevent postoperatrive delirium in the elderly: the CONFUCIUS stepped wedge protocol
Background: Postoperative delirium is common in the elderly and is associated with a significant increase in mortality, complications, length of hospital stay and admission in long care facility. Although several interventions have proved their effectiveness to prevent it, the Cochrane advises an assessment of multifaceted intervention using rigorous methodology based on randomized study design. Our purpose is to present the methodology and expected results of the CONFUCIUS trial, which aims to measure the impact of a multifaceted program on the prevention of postoperative delirium in elderly.Method/DesignStudy design is a stepped wedge cluster randomized trial within 3 surgical wards of three French university hospitals. All patients aged 75 and older, and admitted for scheduled surgery will be included. The multifaceted program will be conducted by mobile geriatric team, including geriatric preoperative consultation, training of the surgical staff and implementation of the Hospital Elder Life Program, and morbidity and mortality conference related to delirium cases. The primary outcome is based on postoperative delirium rate within 7 days after surgery. This program is planned to be implemented along four successive time periods within all the surgical wards. Each one will be affected successively to the control arm and to the intervention arm of the trial and the order of program introduction within each surgical ward will be randomly assigned. Based on a 20% reduction of postoperative delirium rate (ICC = 0.25, alpha = 0.05, beta = 0.1), three hundred sixty patients will be included i.e. thirty patients per service and per time period. Endpoints comparison between intervention and control arms of the trial will be performed by considering the cluster and time effects.DiscussionBetter prevention of delirium is expected from the multifaceted program, including a decrease of postoperative delirium, and its consequences (mortality, morbidity, postoperative complications and length of hospital stay) among elderly patients. This study should allow better diagnosis of delirium and strengthen the collaboration between surgical and mobile geriatric teams. Should the program have a substantial impact on the prevention of postoperative delirium in elderly, it could be extended to other facilities.Trial registrationCurrent Controlled Trials NCT01316965
- Understanding comprehensibility and acceptance of an evidence-based consumer information brochure on fall prevention in old age: a focus group study
Background: Evidence-based patient and consumer information (EBPI) is an indispensable component of the patients' decision making process in health care. Prevention of accidental falls in the elderly has gained a lot of public interest during preceding years. Several consumer information brochures on fall prevention have been published; however, none fulfilled the criteria of an EBPI. Little is known about the reception of EBPI by seniors. Therefore we aimed to evaluate a recently developed EBPI brochure on fall prevention with regard to seniors' acceptance and comprehensibility in focus groups and to explore whether the participants' judgements differed depending on the educational background of the study participants. Methods: Seven focus groups were conducted with 40 seniors, aged 60 years or older living independently in a community. Participants were recruited by two gatekeepers. A discussion guide was used and seniors were asked to judge the EBPI brochure on fall prevention using a Likert scale 1-6. The focus group discussions were tape recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed using content analysis. Results: The participants generally accepted the EBPI brochure on fall prevention. Several participants expressed a need for more practical advice. The comprehensibility of the brochure was influenced positively by brief chapter summaries. Participants dismissed the statistical illustrations such as confidence intervals or a Fagan nomogram and only half of them agreed with the meta-information presented in the first chapter. The detailed information about fall prevalence was criticised by some seniors. The use of a case story was well tolerated by the majority of participants. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that the recently developed EBPI brochure on fall prevention in old age was generally well accepted by seniors, but some statistical descriptions were difficult for them to understand. The brochure has to be updated. However, not all issues raised by the participants will be taken into account since some of them are contrary to the principles of EBPI.
- Designing clinical trials for assessing the effects of cognitive training and physical activity interventions on cognitive outcomes: The Seniors Health and Activity Research Program Pilot (SHARP-P) Study, a randomized controlled trial
Background: The efficacy of non-pharmacological intervention approaches such as physical activity, strength, and cognitive training for improving brain health has not been established. Before definitive trials are mounted, important design questions on participation/adherence, training and interventions effects must be answered to more fully inform a full-scale trial. Methods: SHARP-P was a single-blinded randomized controlled pilot trial of a 4-month physical activity training intervention (PA) and/or cognitive training intervention (CT) in a 2 X 2 factorial design with a health education control condition in 73 community-dwelling persons, aged 70-85 years, who were at risk for cognitive decline but did not have mild cognitive impairment. Results: Intervention attendance rates were higher in the CT and PACT groups: CT: 96%, PA: 76%, PACT: 90% (p=0.004). The interventions produced marked changes in cognitive and physical performance measures (p<0.05), and retention rates exceeded 90%. There were no statistically significant differences in 4-month changes in composite scores of cognitive, executive, and episodic memory function among arms. Four-month improvements in the composite measure increased with age among participants assigned to physical activity training but decreased with age for other participants (intervention*age interaction p=0.01). Depending on the choice of outcome, two-armed full-scale trials may require fewer than 1,000 participants (continuous outcome) or 2,000 participants (categorical outcome). Conclusions: Good levels of participation, adherence, and retention appear to be achievable for participants through age 85 years. Care should be taken to ensure that an attention control condition does not attenuate intervention effects. Depending on the choice of outcome measures, the necessary sample sizes to conduct four-year trials appear to be feasible.Trial Registration: Clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00688155
- Persons with dementia missing in the community: Is it wandering or something unique'
At some point in the disease process many persons with dementia (PWD) will have a missing incident and be unable to safely return to their care setting. In previous research studies, researchers have begun to question whether this phenomenon should continue to be called wandering since the antecedents and characteristics of a missing incident are dissimilar to accepted definitions of wandering in dementia. The purpose of this study was to confirm previous findings regarding the antecedents and characteristics of missing incidents, understand the differences between those found dead and alive, and compare the characteristics of a missing incident to that of wandering. Methods: A retrospective design was used to analyse 325 newspaper reports of PWD missing in the community. Results: The primary antecedent to a missing incident, particularly in community-dwelling PWD, was becoming lost while conducting a normal and permitted activity alone in the community. The other common antecedent was a lapse in supervision with the expectation that the PWD would remain in a safe location but did not. Deaths most commonly occurred in unpopulated areas due to exposure and drowning. Those who died were found closer to the place last seen and took longer to find, but there were no significant differences in gender or age. The key characteristics of a missing incident were: unpredictable, non-repetitive, temporally appropriate but spatially-disordered, and while using multiple means of movement (walking, car, public transportation). Missing incidents occurred without the discernible pattern present in wandering such as lapping or pacing, repetitive and temporally-disordered. Conclusions: This research supports the mounting evidence that the concept of wandering, in its formal sense, and missing incidents are two distinct concepts. It will be important to further develop the concept of missing incidents by identifying the differences and similarities from wandering. This will allow a more targeted assessment and intervention strategy for each problem.
- Cognitive and Cognitive-Motor Interventions Affecting Motor Functioning of Older Adults: A Systematic Review
Cognitive and Cognitive-Motor Interventions Affecting Motor Functioning of Older Adults: A Systematic Review Background: Several types of cognitive or combined cognitive-motor intervention types that might influence physical functions have been proposed in the past: training of dual-tasking abilities, and improving cognitive function through behavioral interventions or the use of computer games. The objective of this systematic review was to examine the literature regarding the use of cognitive and cognitive-motor interventions to improve physical functioning in older adults or people with neurological impairments that are similar to cognitive impairments seen in aging. The aim was to identify potentially promising methods that might be used in future intervention type studies for older adults. Methods: A systematic search was conducted for the Medline/Premedline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and EMBASE databases. The search was focused on older adults over the age of 65. To increase the number of articles for review, we also included those discussing adult patients with neurological impairments due to trauma, as these cognitive impairments are similar to those seen in the aging population. The search was restricted to English, German and French language literature without any limitation of publication date or restriction by study design. Cognitive or cognitive-motor interventions were defined as dual-tasking, virtual reality exercise, cognitive exercise, or a combination of these. Results: 28 articles met our inclusion criteria. Three articles used an isolated cognitive rehabilitation intervention, seven articles used a dual-task intervention and 19 applied a computerized intervention. There is evidence to suggest that cognitive or motor-cognitive methods positively affects physical functioning, such as postural control, walking abilities and general functions of the upper and lower extremities, respectively. The majority of the included studies resulted in improvements of the assessed functional outcome measures. Conclusions: The current evidence on the effectiveness of cognitive or motor-cognitive interventions to improve physical functioning in older adults or people with neurological impairments is limited. The heterogeneity of the studies published so far does not allow defining the training methodology with the greatest effectiveness. This review nevertheless provides important foundational information in order to encourage further development of novel cognitive or cognitive-motor interventions, preferably with a randomized control design. Future research that aims to examine the relation between improvements in cognitive skills and the translation to better performance on selected physical tasks should explicitly take the relation between the cognitive and physical skills into account.
- Reduced clinical and postmortem measures of cardiac pathology in subjects with advanced Alzheimer's Disease
Background: Epidemiological studies indicate a statistical linkage between atherosclerotic vascular disease (ATH) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Autopsy studies of cardiac disease in AD have been few and inconclusive. In this report, clinical and gross anatomic measures of cardiac disease were compared in deceased human subjects with and without AD. Methods: Clinically documented cardiovascular conditions from AD (n = 35) and elderly non-demented control subjects (n = 22) were obtained by review of medical records. Coronary artery stenosis and other gross anatomical measures, including heart weight, ventricular wall thickness, valvular circumferences, valvular calcifications and myocardial infarct number and volume were determined at autopsy. Results: Compared to non-demented age-similar control subjects, those with AD had significantly fewer total diagnosed clinical conditions (2.91 vs 4.18), decreased coronary artery stenosis (70.8 vs 74.8%), heart weight (402 vs 489 g for males; 319 vs 412 g for females) and valvular circumferences. Carriage of the Apolipoprotein E-epsilon4 allele did not influence the degree of coronary stenosis. Group differences in heart weight remained significant after adjustment for age, gender, body mass index and apolipoprotein E genotype while differences in coronary artery stenosis were significantly associated with body mass index alone. Conclusions: The results are in agreement with an emerging understanding that, while midlife risk factors for ATH increase the risk for the later development of AD, once dementia begins, both risk factors and manifest disease diminish, possibly due to progressive weight loss with increasing dementia as well as disease involvement of the brain's vasomotor centers.
- Post-discharge management following hip fracture - Get you back to B4:
A parallel group, randomized controlled trial study protocol
Background: Fall-related hip fractures result in significant personal and societal consequences; importantly, up to half of older adults with hip fracture never regain their previous level of mobility. Strategies of follow-up care for older adults after fracture have improved investigation for osteoporosis; but managing bone health alone is not enough. Prevention of fractures requires management of both bone health and falls risk factors (including the contributing role of cognition, balance and continence) to improve outcomes. Methods: This is a parallel group, pragmatic randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of a post-fracture clinic compared with usual care on mobility for older adults following their hospitalization for hip fracture. Participants randomized to the intervention will attend a fracture follow-up clinic where a geriatrician and physiotherapist will assess and manage their mobility and other health issues. Depending on needs identified at the clinical assessment, participants may receive individualized and group-based outpatient physiotherapy, and a home exercise program. Our primary objective is to assess the effectiveness of a novel post-discharge fracture management strategy on the mobility of older adults after hip fracture.We will enrol 130 older adults (65 years+) who have sustained a hip fracture in the previous three months, and were admitted to hospital from home and are expected to be discharged home. We will exclude older adults who prior to the fracture were: unable to walk 10 meters, diagnosed with dementia and/or significant comorbidities that would preclude their participation in the clinical service.Eligible participants will be randomly assigned to the Intervention or Usual Care groups by remote allocation. Treatment allocation will be concealed; investigators, measurement team and primary data analysts will be blinded to group allocation. Our primary outcome is mobility, operationalized as the Short Physical Performance Battery at 12 months. Secondary outcomes include frailty, rehospitalizations, falls risk factors, quality of life, as well as physical activity and sedentary behaviour. We will conduct an economic evaluation to determine health related costs in the first year, and a process evaluation to ascertain the acceptance of the program by older adults, as well as clinicians and staff within the clinic.Clinical Trials Registration NCT01254942
- Implementing a quality improvement programme in palliative care in care homes: a qualitative study
Background: An increasing number of older people reach the end of life in care homes. The aim of this study is to explore the perceived benefits of, and barriers to, implementation of the Gold Standards Framework for Care Homes (GSFCH), a quality improvement programme in palliative care. Methods: Nine care homes involved in the GSFCH took part. We conducted semi-structured interviews with nine care home managers, eight nurses, nine care assistants, eleven residents and seven of their family members. We used the Framework method of qualitative analysis. The analysis was deductive based on the key tasks of the GSFCH, the 7Cs: communication, coordination, control of symptoms, continuity, continued learning, carer support, and care of the dying. This enabled us to consider benefits of, and barriers to, individual components of the programme, as well as of the programme as a whole. Results: Perceived benefits of the GSFCH included: improved symptom control and team communication; finding helpful external support and expertise; increasing staff confidence; fostering residents' choice; and boosting the reputation of the home. Perceived barriers included: increased paperwork; lack of knowledge and understanding of end of life care; costs; and gaining the cooperation of GPs. Many of the tools and tasks in the GSFCH focus on improving communication. Participants described effective communication within the homes, and with external providers such as general practitioners and specialists in palliative care. However, many had experienced problems with general practitioners. Although staff described the benefits of supportive care registers, coding predicted stage of illness and advance care planning, which included improved communication, some felt the need for more experience of using these, and there were concerns about discussing death. Conclusions: Most of the barriers described by participants are relevant to other interventions to improve end of life care in care homes. There is a need to investigate the impact of quality improvement programmes in care homes, such as the GSFCH, on a wider range of outcomes for residents and their families, and to monitor the sustainability of any resulting improvements. It is also important to explore the impact of the different components of these complex interventions.
- Effectiveness of Oral Nutritional Supplementation for Older Women after a Fracture: Rationale, Design and Study of the Feasibility of a Randomized Controlled Study
Background: Malnutrition is a problem for many older people recovering from a hip and other major fractures. Oral supplementation with high calorie high protein nutrients is a simple intervention that may help older people with fractures to improve their recovery in terms of rehabilitation time, length of hospital stay and mortality. This paper reports a pilot study to test the feasibility of a trial initiated in a hospital setting with an oral supplement to older people with recent fractures.MethodA randomized controlled trial with 44 undernourished participants admitted to a hospital following a fracture. The intervention group (n=23) received a high calorie high protein supplement for forty days in addition to their diet of choice. The control group (n=21) received high protein milk during their hospital stay in addition to their diet of choice and their usual diet when discharged from hospital. Results: All participants were women and their mean age was 85.3 (+/- 6.1) years. Twenty nine (65%) participants had a hip fracture. At baseline no differences were measured between the two groups regarding their nutritional status, their cognitive ability or their abilities in activities of daily living. There were no significant differences between the intervention and control group with reference to nutritional or functional parameters at 40 day and 4 month follow-ups. Median length of stay in hospital was 18.0 days, with 12 participants being readmitted for a median of 7.0 days. Conclusion: It is feasible to perform a randomised trial in a hospital and community setting to test the effect of an oral high energy high protein supplement for older people. Due to the limited number of participants and incomplete adherence with use of the supplements no conclusion can be drawn about the efficacy or effectiveness of this intervention.
- Predicting ADL disability in community-dwelling elderly people using physical frailty indicators: a systematic review
Background: Disability in Activities of Daily Living (ADL) is an adverse outcome of frailty that places a burden on frail elderly people, care providers and the care system. Knowing which physical frailty indicators predict ADL disability is useful in identifying elderly people who might benefit from an intervention that prevents disability or increases functioning in daily life. The objective of this study was to systematically review the literature on the predictive value of physical frailty indicators on ADL disability in community-dwelling elderly people. Methods: A systematic search was performed in 3 databases (PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE) from January 1975 until April 2010. Prospective, longitudinal studies that assessed the predictive value of individual physical frailty indicators on ADL disability in community-dwelling elderly people aged 65 years and older were eligible for inclusion. Articles were reviewed by two independent reviewers who also assessed the quality of the included studies. Results: After initial screening of 3081 titles, 360 abstracts were scrutinized, leaving 64 full text articles for final review. Eventually, 28 studies were included in the review. The methodological quality of these studies was rated by both reviewers on a scale from 0 to 27. All included studies were of high quality with a mean quality score of 22.5 (SD 1.6). Findings indicated that individual physical frailty indicators, such as weight loss, gait speed, grip strength, physical activity, balance, and lower extremity function are predictors of future ADL disability in community-dwelling elderly people. Conclusions: This review shows that physical frailty indicators can predict ADL disability in community-dwelling elderly people. Slow gait speed and low physical activity/exercise seem to be the most powerful predictors followed by weight loss, lower extremity function, balance, muscle strength, and other indicators. These findings should be interpreted with caution because the data of the different studies could not be pooled due to large variations in operationalization of the indicators and ADL disability across the included studies. Nevertheless, our study suggests that monitoring physical frailty indicators in community-dwelling elderly people might be useful to identify elderly people who could benefit from disability prevention programs.
- The effects of melatonin versus placebo on delirium in hip fracture patients: study protocol of a randomised, placebo-controlled, double blind trial
Background: With an ageing population, older persons become a larger part of the hospital population. The incidence of delirium is high in this group, and experiencing delirium has major short- and long-term sequelae, which makes prevention crucial. During delirium, a disruption of the sleep-wake cycle is frequently observed. Melatonin plays an important role in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, so this raised the hypothesis that alterations in the metabolism of melatonin might play an important role in the development of delirium. The aim of this article is to describe the design of a randomised, placebo controlled double-blind trial that is currently in progress and that investigates the effects of melatonin versus placebo on delirium in older, postoperative hip fracture patients. Methods: Acutely hospitalised patients aged 65 years or older admitted for surgical repair of hip fracture are randomised (n= 452) into a treatment or placebo group. Prophylactic treatment consists of orally administered melatonin (3 mg) at 21:00 h on five consecutive days. The primary outcome is the occurrence of delirium, to be diagnosed according to the Confusion Assessment Method, within eight days after start of the study medication. Secondary outcomes are delirium severity, measured by the Delirium Rating Scale; duration of delirium; differences in subtypes of delirium; differences in total length of hospital stay; total dose of antipsychotics and/or benzodiazepine use during delirium; and in-hospital complications. In the twelve-month follow up visit, cognitive function is measured by a Mini-Mental state examination and the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly. Functional status is assessed with the Katz ADL index score (patient and family version) and grip strength measurement. The outcomes of these assessments are compared to the outcomes that were obtained during admission.DiscussionThe proposed study will contribute to our knowledge because studies on the prophylactic treatment of delirium with long term follow up remain scarce. The results may lead to a prophylactic treatment for frail older persons at high risk for delirium that is safe, effective, and easily implementable in daily practice.Trial registration: Dutch Clinical Trial Registry: NTR1576.
- Primary care providers' perspective on prescribing opioids to older adults with chronic non-cancer pain: A qualitative study
Background: The use of opioid medications as treatment for chronic non-cancer pain remains controversial. Little information is currently available regarding healthcare providers' attitudes and beliefs about this practice among older adults. This study aimed to describe primary care providers' experiences and attitudes towards, as well as perceived barriers and facilitators to prescribing opioids as a treatment for chronic pain among older adults. Methods: Six focus groups were conducted with a total of 23 physicians and three nurse practitioners from two academically affiliated primary care practices and three community health centers located in New York City. Focus groups were audiotape recorded and transcribed. The data were analyzed using directed content analysis; NVivo software was used to assist in the quantification of identified themes. Results: Most participants (96%) employed opioids as therapy for some of their older patients with chronic pain, although not as first-line therapy. Providers cited multiple barriers, including fear of causing harm, the subjectivity of pain, lack of education, problems converting between opioids, and stigma. New barriers included patient/family member reluctance to try an opioid and concerns about opioid abuse by family members/caregivers. Studies confirming treatment benefit, validated tools for assessing risk and/or dosing for comorbidities, improved conversion methods, patient education, and peer support could facilitate opioid prescribing. Participants voiced greater comfort using opioids in the setting of delivering palliative or hospice care versus care of patients with chronic pain, and expressed substantial frustration managing chronic pain. Conclusions: Providers perceive multiple barriers to prescribing opioids to older adults with chronic pain, and use these medications cautiously. Establishing the long-term safety and efficacy of these medications, generating improved prescribing methods, and implementing provider and patient educational interventions could help to improve the management of chronic pain in later life.
- Evaluation design of a reactivation care program to prevent functional loss in hospitalised elderly: A cohort study including a randomised controlled trial
Background: Elderly persons admitted to the hospital are at risk for hospital related functional loss. This evaluation aims to compare the effects of different levels of (integrated) health intervention care programs on preventing hospital related functional loss among elderly patients by comparing a new intervention program to two usual care programs. Methods: This study will include an effect, process and cost evaluation using a mixed methods design of quantitative and qualitative methods. Three hospitals in the Netherlands with different levels of integrated geriatric health care will be evaluated using a quasi-experimental study design. Data collection on outcomes will take place through a prospective cohort study, which will incorporate a nested randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effects of a stay at the centre for prevention and reactivation for patients with complex problems. The study population will consist of elderly persons (65 years or older) at risk for functional loss who are admitted to one of the three hospitals. Data is prospectively collected at time of hospital admission (T0), three months (T1), and twelve months (T2) after hospital admission. Patient and informal caregiver outcomes (e.g. health related quality of life, activities of daily living, burden of care, (re-) admission in hospital or nursing homes, mortality) as well as process measures (e.g. the cooperation and collaboration of multidisciplinary teams, patient and informal caregiver satisfaction with care) will be measured. A qualitative analysis will determine the fidelity of intervention implementation as well as provide further context and explanation for quantitative outcomes. Finally, costs will be determined from a societal viewpoint to allow for cost effectiveness calculations.DiscussionIt is anticipated that higher levels of integrated hospital health care for at risk elderly will result in prevention of loss of functioning and loss of quality of life after hospital discharge as well as in lower burden of care and higher quality of life for informal caregivers. Ultimately, the results of this study may contribute to the implementation of a national integrated health care program to prevent hospital related functional loss among elderly patients.Trial registrationThe Netherlands National Trial Register: NTR2317
- Early and late mortality in elderly patients after hip fracture: a cohort study using administrative health databases in the Lazio region, Italy
Background: Hip fractures represent one of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality in elderly people. We evaluated the risk and the potential determinants of early, mid and long term mortality, in a population-based cohort of subjects aged 65 years old or older. Methods: Using hospital discharge database we identified all hospitalized hip fracture cases of 2006, among residents in Lazio Region aged >=65 years old. The mortality follow-up was performed through a deterministic record-linkage between the cohort and the death registry for the years 2006 and 2007.Kaplan-Meier method was used to calculate cumulative survival probability after admission. Shared frailties Cox regression model was used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for early (within 1 month), mid (1-6 months) and long term (6-24 months) mortality. As possible cofactors we considered age, gender, marital status, education degree, comorbidities, surgical intervention, and hospital volume of surgical treatment for hip fracture. Results: We identified 6,896 patients; 78% were females, median age was 83 and 9% had two or more comorbidities. Five percent died during hospital stay; the cumulative probability of dying at 30, 180 days, and at 2 years was 7%, 18% and 30%. In the first month following admission, we found a significantly increased HR with older age, male sex, not married status, history of hearth disease, chronic pulmonary and renal disease; for those who had surgery there was a significantly increased HR within two days after surgical intervention and a significantly decreased HR thereafter compared to those who received a conservative management. Between 1 and 6 months significantly increased HRs were for older age, male sex and higher hospital volume of surgical treatment. After six months, significantly increased HRs were for older age, male sex, presence of dementia and other low prevalence diseases. Conclusion: In Lazio region the risk of dying after hip fracture is similar to that found in high-income countries. Both clinical and organizational factors of acute care are associated with the risk of early mortality. As time passes, some of these factors tend to become less important while older age, male gender, the presence of cognitive problems and the presence of other comorbidities remain significant.
- The effect of regular walks on various health aspects in older people with dementia: protocol of a randomized-controlled trial
Background: Physical activity has proven to be beneficial for physical functioning, cognition, depression, anxiety, rest-activity rhythm, quality of life (QoL), activities of daily living (ADL) and pain in older people. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of walking regularly on physical functioning, the progressive cognitive decline, level of depression, anxiety, rest-activity rhythm, QoL, ADL and pain in older people with dementia. Methods: This study is a longitudinal randomized controlled, single blind study. Ambulatory older people with dementia, who are regular visitors of daily care or living in a home for the elderly or nursing home in the Netherlands, will be randomly allocated to the experimental or control condition. Participants of the experimental group make supervised walks of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, as part of their daily nursing care. Participants of the control group will come together three times a week for tea or other sedentary activities to control for possible positive effects of social interaction. All dependent variables will be assessed at baseline and after 6 weeks, and 3, 6, 9, 12 and 18 months of intervention.The dependent variables include neuropsychological tests to assess cognition, physical tests to determine physical functioning, questionnaires to assess ADL, QoL, level of depression and anxiety, actigraphy to assess rest-activity rhythm and pain scales to determine pain levels. Potential moderating variables at baseline are: socio-demographic characteristics, body mass index, subtype of dementia, apolipoprotein E (ApoE) genotype, medication use and comorbidities.DiscussionThis study evaluates the effect of regular walking as a treatment for older people with dementia. The strength of this study is that 1) it has a longitudinal design with multiple repeated measurements, 2) we assess many different health aspects, 3) the intervention is not performed by research staff, but by nursing staff which enables it to become a routine in usual care. Possible limitations of the study are that 1) only active minded institutions are willing to participate creating a selection bias, 2) the drop-out rate will be high in this population, 3) not all participants will be able to perform/understand all tests.Trial registration: NTR1482.
- Delirium Risk Screening and Haloperidol Prophylaxis Program in hip fracture patients is a helpful tool in identifying high-risk patients, but does not reduce the incidence of delirium
Background: Delirium in patients with hip fractures lead to higher morbidity and mortality. Prevention in high-risk patients by prescribing low dose haloperidol is currently under investigation. Methods: This prospective cohort surveillance assessed hip fracture patients for risk of developing a delirium with the Risk Model for Delirium (RD) score. High-risk patients (score [greater than or equal to]5 points) were treated with a prophylactic low-dose of haloperidol according to hospital protocol. Primary outcome was delirium incidence. Secondary outcomes were differences between high- and low-risk patients in delirium, length of stay (LOS), return to pre-fracture living situation and mortality. Logistic regression analysis was performed with age, ASA-classification, known dementia, having a partner, type of fracture, institutional residence and psychotropic drug use as possible confounders. Results: 445 hip fracture patients aged 65 years and older were admitted from January 2008 to December 2009. The RD-score was completed in 378 patients, 173 (45.8%) high-risk patients were treated with prophylactic medication. Sensitivity was 71.6%, specificity 63.8% and the negative predictive value (NPV) of a score < 5 was 85.9%.Delirium incidence (27.0%) was not significantly different compared to 2007 (27.8%) 2006 (23.9%) and 2005 (29.0%) prior to implementation of the RD- protocol.Logistic regression analysis showed that high-risk patients did have a significant higher delirium incidence (42.2% vs. 14.1%, OR 4.1, CI 2.43-7.02). They were more likely to be residing at an alternative living situation after 3 months (62.3% vs. 17.0%, OR 6.57, CI 3.23-13.37) and less likely to be discharged from hospital before 10 days (34.9% vs. 55.9%, OR 1.63, CI 1.03-2.59). Significant independent risk factors for a delirium were a RD-score [greater than or equal to]5 (OR 4.13, CI 2.43-7.02), male gender (OR 1.93, CI 0.99-1.07) and age (OR 1.03, CI 0.99-1.07). Conclusions: Introducing the delirium prevention protocol did not reduce delirium incidence.The RD-score did identify patients with a high risk to develop a delirium. This high-risk group had a longer LOS and returned to pre-fracture living situation less often.The NPV of a score < 5 was high, as it should be for a screening instrument. Concluding, the RD-score is a useful tool to identify patients with poorer outcome.
- Fecal pancreatic elastase-1 levels in older individuals without known gastrointestinal diseases or diabetes mellitus
Background: Structural changes occur in the pancreas as a part of the natural aging process. With aging, also the incidence of maldigestive symptoms and malnutrition increases, raising the possibility that these might be caused at least in part by inadequate pancreatic enzyme secretion due to degenerative processes and damage of the gland. Fecal elastase-1 is a good marker of pancreatic exocrine secretion. The aim of this study was to investigate the fecal elastase-1 levels among over 60 years old Finnish and Polish healthy individuals without any special diet, known gastrointestinal disease, surgery or diabetes mellitus.MethodSA total of 159 patients participated in this cross-sectional study. 106 older individuals (aged 60-92 years) were recruited from outpatient clinics and elderly homes. They were divided to three age groups: 60-69 years old (n=31); 70-79 years old (n=38) and over 80 years old (n=37). 53 young subjects (20-28 years old) were investigated as controls. Inclusion criteria were age over 60 years, normal status and competence. Exclusion criteria were any special diet, diabetes mellitus, any known gastrointestinal disease or prior gastrointestinal surgery. Fecal elastase-1 concentration was measured from stool samples with an ELISA that uses two monoclonal antibodies against different epitopes of human elastase-1. Results: Fecal elastase-1 concentrations correlated negatively with age (Pearson r = -0,3531, P < 0.001) and were significantly lower among subjects over 70 years old compared to controls (controls vs. 70-79 years old and controls vs. over 80 years old, both P < 0.001). Among the over 60 years old subjects, the fecal elastase-1 concentrations were below the cut off level of 200 mug/g in 23 of 106 (21.7 %) individuals [mean 112 (86-138) mug/g] indicating pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. Of those, 9 subjects had fecal elastase-1 level below 100 mug/g as a marker of severe pancreatic insufficiency. Conclusion: In our study one fifth of healthy older individuals without any gastrointestinal disorder, surgery or diabetes mellitus suffer from pancreatic exocrine insufficiency and might benefit from enzyme supplementation therapy.
- Relationship between subjective fall risk assessment and falls and fall-related fractures in frail elderly people
Background: Objective measurements can be used to identify people with risks of falls, but many frail elderly adults cannot complete physical performance tests. The study examined the relationship between a subjective risk rating of specific tasks (SRRST) to screen for fall risks and falls and fall-related fractures in frail elderly people. Methods: The SRRST was investigated in 5,062 individuals aged 65 years or older who were utilized day-care services. The SRRST comprised 7 dichotomous questions to screen for fall risks during movements and behaviours such as walking, transferring, and wandering. The history of falls and fall-related fractures during the previous year was reported by participants or determined from an interview with the participant's family and care staff. Results: All SRRST items showed significant differences between the participants with and without falls and fall-related fractures. In multiple logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, diseases, and behavioural variables, the SRRST score was independently associated with history of falls and fractures. Odds ratios for those in the high-risk SRRST group ([greater than or equal to]5 points) compared with the no risk SRRST group (0 point) were 6.15 (p<0.01) for a single fall, 15.04 (p<0.01) for recurrent falls, and 5.05 (p<0.01) for fall-related fractures. The results remained essentially unchanged in subgroup analysis accounting for locomotion status. Conclusion: These results suggest that subjective ratings by care staff can be utilized to determine the risks of falls and fall-related fractures in the frail elderly, however, these preliminary results require confirmation in further prospective research.
- A New Model of Delirium Care in the Acute Geriatric Setting: Geriatric Monitoring Unit
Background: Delirium is a common and serious condition, which affects many of our older hospitalised patients. It is an indicator of severe underlying illness and requires early diagnosis and prompt treatment, associated with poor survival, functional outcomes with increased risk of institutionalisation following the delirium episode in the acute care setting. We describe a new model of delirium care in the acute care setting, titled Geriatric Monitoring Unit (GMU) where the important concepts of delirium prevention and management are integrated. We hypothesize that patients with delirium admitted to the GMU will have better clinical outcomes with less need for physical and psychotropic restraints compared to usual care. Methods: GMU models after the Delirium Room with adoption of core interventions from Hospital Elder Life Program and use of evening bright light therapy to consolidate circadian rhythm and improve sleep in the elderly patients. The novelty of this approach lies in the amalgamation of these interventions in a multi-faceted approach in acute delirium management. GMU development thus consist of key considerations for room design and resource planning, program specific interventions and daily core interventions.Assessments undertaken include baseline demographics, comorbidity scoring, duration and severity of delirium, cognitive, functional measures at baseline, 6 months and 12 months later. Additionally we also analysed the pre and post-GMU implementation knowledge and attitude on delirium care among staff members in the geriatric wards (nurses, doctors) and undertook satisfaction surveys for caregivers of patients treated in GMUDiscussionThis study protocol describe the conceptualization and implementation of a specialized unit for delirium management. We hypothesize that such a model of care will not only result in better clinical outcomes for the elderly patient with delirium compared to usual geriatric care, but also improved staff knowledge and satisfaction. The model may then be transposed across various locations and disciplines in the acute hospital where delirious patients could be sited.Trial Registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN52323811
- Calibrating ADL-IADL scales to improve measurement
accuracy and to extend the disability construct into the
preclinical range: a systematic review
Background: Interest in measuring functional status among nondisabled older adults has increased in recent years. This is, in part, due to the notion that adults identified as 'high risk' for functional decline portray a state that is potentially easier to reverse than overt disability. Assessing relatively healthy older adults with traditional self-report measures (activities of daily living) has proven difficult because these instruments were initially developed for institutionalised older adults. Perhaps less evident, are problems associated with change scores and the potential for 'construct under-representation', which reflects the exclusion of important features of the construct (e.g., disability). Furthermore, establishing a formal hierarchy of functional status tells more than the typical simple summation of functional loss, and may have predictive value to the clinician monitoring older adults: if the sequence task difficulty is accelerated or out of order it may indicate the need for interventions. Methods: This review identified studies that employed item response theory (IRT) to examine or revise functional status scales. IRT can be used to transform the ordinal nature of functional status scales to interval level data, which serves to increase diagnostic precision and sensitivity to clinical change. Furthermore, IRT can be used to rank items unequivocally along a hierarchy based on difficulty. It should be noted that this review is not concerned with contrasting IRT with more traditional classical test theory methodology. Results: A systematic search of four databases (PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, and PsychInfo) resulted in the review of 2,192 manuscripts. Of these manuscripts, twelve met our inclusion/exclusion requirements and thus were targeted for further inspection. Conclusions: Manuscripts presented in this review appear to summarise gerontology's best efforts to improve construct validity and content validity (i.e., ceiling effects) for scales measuring the early stages of activity restriction in community-dwelling older adults. Several scales in this review were exceptional at reducing ceiling effects, reducing gaps in coverage along the construct, as well as establishing a formal hierarchy of functional decline. These instrument modifications make it plausible to detect minor changes in difficulty for IADL items positioned at the edge of the disability continuum, which can be used to signal the onset of progressive type disability in older adults.
- Long-term declines in ADLs, IADLs, and mobility among older Medicare beneficiaries
Background: Most prior studies have focused on short-term (< 2 years) functional declines. But those studies cannot address aging effects inasmuch as all participants have aged the same amount. Therefore, the authors studied the extent of long-term functional decline in older Medicare beneficiaries who were followed for varying time lengths, and the authors also identified the risk factors associated with those declines. Methods: The analytic sample included 5,871 self- or proxy-respondents who had complete baseline and follow-up survey data that could be linked to their Medicare claims for 1993-2007. Functional status was assessed using activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental ADLs (IADLs), and mobility limitations, with declines defined as the development of two of more new difficulties. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to focus on the associations involving respondent status, health lifestyle, continuity of care, managed care status, health shocks, and terminal drop. Results: The average amount of time between the first and final interviews was 8.0 years. Declines were observed for 36.6% on ADL abilities, 32.3% on IADL abilities, and 30.9% on mobility abilities. Functional decline was more likely to occur when proxy-reports were used, and the effects of baseline function on decline were reduced when proxy-reports were used. Engaging in vigorous physical activity consistently and substantially protected against functional decline, whereas obesity, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption were only associated with mobility declines. Post-baseline hospitalizations were the most robust predictors of functional decline, exhibiting a dose-response effect such that the greater the average annual number of hospital episodes, the greater the likelihood of functional status decline. Participants whose final interview preceded their death by one year or less had substantially greater odds of functional status decline. Conclusions: Both the additive and interactive (with functional status) effects of respondent status should be taken into consideration whenever proxy-reports are used. Encouraging exercise could broadly reduce the risk of functional decline across all three outcomes, although interventions encouraging weight reduction and smoking cessation would only affect mobility declines. Reducing hospitalization and re-hospitalization rates could also broadly reduce the risk of functional decline across all three outcomes.
- Study protocol of the multi-site randomised controlled REDALI-DEM trial - The effects of structured Relearning methods on Daily Living task performance of persons with Dementia
Background: Evidence from pilot trials suggests that structured learning techniques may have positive effects on the performance of cognitive tasks, movement sequences or skills in patients with Alzheimer's disease. The purpose of this trial is to evaluate whether the usual method of learning by trial and error or the method of errorless learning demonstrate better effects on the performance of two selected daily living tasks six weeks after the intervention in people with mild to moderate dementia. Methods: A seven-centre single-blind, active-controlled design with a 1:1 randomisation for two parallel groups will include 175 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or mixed type dementia (MMSE 14-24), living at home, showing at least moderate need for assistance in instrumental activities of daily living; primary carer available and informed consent of patient and primary carer. Patients of both study arms will receive 15 one-hour-sessions at home by trained interventionists practising two daily living tasks individually selected. In one group the trial and error technique and in the other group the errorless learning method will be applied. Primary outcome is the task performance measured with the Task Performance Scale six weeks post treatment.DiscussionThe trial results will inform us to improve guidelines for instructing individuals with memory impairments. A user-friendly practice guideline will allow an efficient implementation of structured relearning techniques for a wide range of service providers in dementia care.Trial registrationDRKS00003117
- Study protocol of the multi-site randomised controlled REDALI-DEM trial - The effects of structured Relearning methods on Daily Living task performance of persons with Dementia
Background: Evidence from pilot trials suggests that structured learning techniques may have positive effects on the performance of cognitive tasks, movement sequences or skills in patients with Alzheimer's disease. The purpose of this trial is to evaluate whether the usual method of learning by trial and error or the method of errorless learning demonstrate better effects on the performance of two selected daily living tasks six weeks after the intervention in people with mild to moderate dementia.Methods/DesignA seven-centre single-blind, active-controlled design with a 1:1 randomisation for two parallel groups will include 175 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or mixed type dementia (MMSE 14-24), living at home, showing at least moderate need for assistance in instrumental activities of daily living; primary carer available and informed consent of patient and primary carer. Patients of both study arms will receive 15 one-hour-sessions at home by trained interventionists practising two daily living tasks individually selected. In one group the trial and error technique and in the other group the errorless learning method will be applied. Primary outcome is the task performance measured with the Task Performance Scale six weeks post treatment.DiscussionThe trial results will inform us to improve guidelines for instructing individuals with memory impairments. A user-friendly practice guideline will allow an efficient implementation of structured relearning techniques for a wide range of service providers in dementia care.Trial registrationDRKS00003117
- Patterns of comorbidity in community-dwelling older people hospitalised for fall-related injury: A cluster analysis
Background: Community-dwelling older people aged 65+ years sustain falls frequently; these can result in physical injuries necessitating medical attention including emergency department care and hospitalisation. Certain health conditions and impairments have been shown to contribute independently to the risk of falling or experiencing a fall injury, suggesting that individuals with these conditions or impairments should be the focus of falls prevention. Since older people commonly have multiple conditions/impairments, knowledge about which conditions/impairments coexist in at-risk individuals would be valuable in the implementation of a targeted prevention approach. The objective of this study was therefore to examine the prevalence and patterns of comorbidity in this population group. Methods: We analysed hospitalisation data from Victoria, Australia's second most populous state, to estimate the prevalence of comorbidity in patients hospitalised at least once between 2005-6 and 2007-8 for treatment of acute fall-related injuries. In patients with two or more comorbid conditions (multicomorbidity) we used an agglomerative hierarchical clustering method to cluster comorbidity variables and identify constellations of conditions. Results: More than one in four patients had at least one comorbid condition and among patients with comorbidity one in three had multicomorbidity (range 2-7). The prevalence of comorbidity varied by gender, age group, ethnicity and injury type; it was also associated with a significant increase in the average cumulative length of stay per patient. The cluster analysis identified five distinct, biologically plausible clusters of comorbidity: cardiopulmonary/metabolic, neurological, sensory, stroke and cancer. The cardiopulmonary/metabolic cluster was the largest cluster among the clusters identified. Conclusions: The consequences of comorbidity clustering in terms of falls and/or injury outcomes of hospitalised patients should be investigated by future studies. Our findings have particular relevance for falls prevention strategies, clinical practice and planning of follow-up services for these patients.
- Are elderly people with co-morbidities involved adequately in medical decision making when hospitalised'
A cross-sectional survey
Background: Medical decision making has long been in focus, but little is known of the preferences and conditions for elderly people with co-morbidities to participate in medical decision making. The main objective of the present study was to investigate the preferred and the actual degree of control, i.e. the role elderly people with co-morbidities wish to assume and actually had with regard to information and participation in medical decision making during their last stay in hospital.This study was a cross-sectional survey including three Swedish hospitals with acute admittance. The participants were patients aged 75 years and above with three or more diagnoses according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10) and three or more hospitalisations during the last year. Methods: We used a questionnaire combined with a telephone interview, using the Control Preference Scale to measure each participant's preferred and actual role in medical decision making during their last stay in hospital. Additional questions were asked about barriers to participation in decision making and preferred information seeking role. The results are presented with descriptive statistics with kappa weights. Results: Of the 297 elderly patients identified, 52.5% responded (n=156, 46.5% male). Mean age was 83.1 years. Of the respondents, 42 of 153 patients said that they were not asked for their opinion (i.e. no shared decision making). Among the other 111 patients, 49 had their exact preferred level of participation, 37 had more less participation than they would have preferred, and 23 had more less responsibility than they would have preferred. Kappa statistics showed a moderate agreement between preferred and actual role (kappaw = 0.57; 95% CI: 0.45-0.69). Most patients wanted to be given more information without having to ask. There was no correlation between age, gender, or education and preferred role. 35% of the patients agreed that they experienced some of the various barriers to decision making that they were asked about: 1) the severity of their illness, 2) doctors with different treatment strategies, 3) difficulty understanding the medical information, and 4) difficulty understanding doctors who did not speak the patient's own language. Conclusions: Physicians are not fully responsive to patient preferences regarding either the degree of communication or the patient's participation in decision making. Barriers to participation can be a problem, and should be taken into account more often when dealing with hospitalised elderly people.
- Recent Trends in Chronic Disease, Impairment and Disability
Among Older Adults in the United States
Background: To examine concurrent prevalence trends of chronic disease, impairment and disability among older adults. Methods: We analyzed the 1998, 2004 and 2008 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of older adults in the United States, and included 31,568 community dwelling adults aged 65 and over. Measurements include: prevalence of chronic diseases including hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, chronic lung disease and arthritis; prevalence of impairments, including impairments of cognition, vision, hearing, mobility, and urinary incontinence; prevalence of disability, including activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). Results: The proportion of older adults reporting no chronic disease decreased from 13.1% (95% Confidence Interval [CI], 12.4%-13.8%) in 1998 to 7.8% (95% CI, 7.2%-8.4%) in 2008, whereas the proportion reporting 1 or more chronic diseases increased from 86.9% (95% CI, 86.2%-89.6%) in 1998 to 92.2% (95% CI, 91.6%-92.8%) in 2008. In addition, the proportion reporting 4 or more diseases increased from 11.7% (95% CI, 11.0%-12.4%) in 1998 to 17.4% (95% CI, 16.6%-18.2%) in 2008. The proportion of older adults reporting no impairments was 47.3% (95% CI, 46.3%-48.4%) in 1998 and 44.4% (95% CI, 43.3%-45.5%) in 2008, whereas the proportion of respondents reporting 3 or more was 7.2% (95% CI, 6.7%-7.7%) in 1998 and 7.3% (95% CI, 6.8%-7.9%) in 2008. The proportion of older adults reporting any ADL or IADL disability was 26.3% (95% CI, 25.4%-27.2%) in 1998 and 25.4% (95% CI, 24.5%-26.3%) in 2008. Conclusions: Multiple chronic disease is increasingly prevalent among older U.S. adults, whereas the prevalence of impairment and disability, while substantial, remain stable.
- [Cost]effectiveness of withdrawal of fall-risk increasing drugs versus conservative treatment in older fallers: design of a multicenter randomized controlled trial (IMPROveFALL-study)
Background: Fall incidents represent an increasing public health problem in aging societies worldwide. A major risk factor for falls is the use of fall-risk increasing drugs. The primary aim of the study is to compare the effect of a structured medication assessment including the withdrawal of fall-risk increasing drugs on the number of new falls versus 'care as usual' in older adults presenting at the Emergency Department after a fall. Methods: A prospective, multi-center, randomized controlled trial will be conducted in hospitals in the Netherlands. Persons aged [greater than or equal to]65 years who visit the Emergency Department due to a fall are invited to participate in this trial. All patients receive a full geriatric assessment at the research outpatient clinic. Patients are randomized between a structured medication assessment including withdrawal of fall-risk increasing drugs and 'care as usual'. A 3-monthly falls calendar is used for assessing the number of falls, fallers and associated injuries over a one-year follow-up period. Measurements will be at three, six, nine, and twelve months and include functional outcome, healthcare consumption, socio-demographic characteristics, and clinical information. After twelve months a second visit to the research outpatient clinic will be performed, and adherence to the new medication regimen in the intervention group will be measured. The primary outcome will be the incidence of new falls. Secondary outcome measurements are possible health effects of medication withdrawal, health-related quality of life (Short Form-12 and EuroQol-5D), costs, and cost-effectiveness of the intervention. Data will be analyzed using an intention-to-treat analysis.DiscussionThe successful completion of this trial will provide evidence on the effectiveness of withdrawal of fall-risk increasing drugs in older patients as a method for falls reduction.Trial registration: Netherlands Trial Register (NTR1593)
- Lighting and Perceptual Cues: Effects on Gait Measures of Older Adults at High and Low Risk for Falls
Background: The visual system plays an important role in maintaining balance. As a person ages, gait becomes slower and stride becomes shorter, especially in dimly lighted environments. Falls risk has been associated with reduced speed and increased gait variability. Methods: Twenty-four older adults (half identified at risk for falls) experienced three lighting conditions: pathway illuminated by 1) general ceiling-mounted fixtures, 2) conventional plug-in night lights and 3) plug-in night lights supplemented by laser lines outlining the pathway. Gait measures were collected using the GAITRite walkway system. Results: Participants performed best under the general ceiling-mounted light system and worst under the night light alone. The pathway plus night lights increased gait velocity and reduced step length variability compared to the night lights alone in those at greater risk of falling. Conclusions: Practically, when navigating in more challenging environments, such as in low-level ambient illumination, the addition of perceptual cues that define the horizontal walking plane can potentially reduce falls risks in older adults.
- Eccentric Exercise versus Usual-Care with Older Cancer Survivors:
The Impact on Muscle and Mobility-An Exploratory Pilot Study
Background: Resistance exercise programs with high compliance are needed to counter impaired muscle and mobility in older cancer survivors. To date outcomes have focused on older prostate cancer survivors, though more heterogeneous groups of older survivors are in-need. The purpose of this exploratory pilot study is to examine whether resistance exercise via negative eccentrically-induced work (RENEW) improves muscle and mobility in a diverse sample of older cancer survivors. Methods: A total of 40 individuals (25 female, 15 male) with a mean age of 74 (+/- 6) years who have survived (8.4 +/- 8 years) since their cancer diagnosis (breast, prostate, colorectal and lymphoma) were assigned to a RENEW group or a non-exercise Usual-Care group. RENEW was performed for 12 weeks and measures of muscle size, strength, power and mobility were made pre and post training. Results: RENEW induced increases in quadriceps lean tissue average cross sectional area (Pre: 43.2+/-10.8 cm2; Post: 44.9+/-10.9 cm2), knee extension peak strength (Pre: 248.3+/-10.8N; Post: 275.4+/-10.9N), leg extension muscle power (Pre: 198.2+/-74.7W; Post 255.5+/-87.3W), six minute walk distance (Pre: 417.2+/-127.1m; Post 466.9+/-125.1m) and a decrease on the time to safely descend stairs (Pre: 6.8+/-4.5s; Post 5.4+/-2.5s). A significant (P<0.05) group x time interaction was noted for the muscle size and mobility improvements. Conclusions: This exploration of RENEW in a heterogeneous cohort of older cancer survivors demonstrates increases in muscle size, strength and power along with improved mobility. The efficacy of a high-force, low perceived exertion exercise suggests RENEW may be suited to older individuals who are survivors of cancer.Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00335491
- Reducing Depression in Older Home Care Clients: Design of a Prospective Study of a Nurse-Led Interprofessional Mental Health Promotion Intervention
Background: Very little research has been conducted in the area of depression among older home care clients using personal support services. These older adults are particularly vulnerable to depression because of decreased cognition, comorbid chronic conditions, functional limitations, lack of social support, and reduced access to health services. To date, research has focused on collaborative, nurse-led depression care programs among older adults in primary care settings. Optimal management of depression among older home care clients is not currently known. The objective of this study is to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of a 6-month nurse-led, interprofessional mental health promotion intervention aimed at older home care clients with depressive symptoms using personal support services. Methods: This one-group pre-test post-test study aims to recruit a total of 250 long-stay (> 60 days) home care clients, 70 years or older, with depressive symptoms who are receiving personal support services through a home care program in Ontario, Canada. The nurse-led intervention is a multi-faceted 6-month program led by a Registered Nurse that involves regular home visits, monthly case conferences, and evidence-based assessment and management of depression using an interprofessional approach. The primary outcome is the change in severity of depressive symptoms from baseline to 6 months using the Centre for Epidemiological Studies in Depression Scale. Secondary outcomes include changes in the prevalence of depressive symptoms and anxiety, health-related quality of life, cognitive function, and the rate and appropriateness of depression treatment from baseline to 12 months. Changes in the costs of use of health services will be assessed from a societal perspective. Descriptive and qualitative data will be collected to examine the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention and identify barriers and facilitators to implementation.DiscussionData collection began in May 2010 and is expected to be completed by July 2012. A collaborative nurse-led strategy may provide a feasible, acceptable and effective means for improving the health of older home care clients by improving the prevention, recognition, and management of depression in this vulnerable population. The challenges involved in designing a practical, transferable and sustainable nurse-led intervention in home care are also discussed.Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01407926
- Predictors of adherence to a multifaceted podiatry intervention for the prevention of falls in older people
Background: Despite emerging evidence that foot problems and inappropriate footwear increase the risk of falls, there is little evidence as to whether foot-related intervention strategies can be successfully implemented. The aim of this study was to evaluate adherence rates, barriers to adherence, and the predictors of adherence to a multifaceted podiatry intervention for the prevention of falls in older people. Methods: The intervention group (n=153, mean age 74.2 years) of a randomised trial that investigated the effectiveness of a multifaceted podiatry intervention to prevent falls was assessed for adherence to the three components of the intervention: (i) foot orthoses, (ii) footwear advice and footwear cost subsidy, and (iii) a home-based foot and ankle exercise program. Adherence to each component and the barriers to adherence were documented, and separate discriminant function analyses were undertaken to identify factors that were significantly and independently associated with adherence to the three intervention components. Results: Adherence to the three components of the intervention was as follows: foot orthoses (69%), footwear (54%) and home-based exercise (72%). Discriminant function analyses identified that being younger was the best predictor of orthoses use, higher physical health status and lower fear of falling were independent predictors of footwear adherence, and higher physical health status was the best predictor of exercise adherence. The predictive accuracy of these models was only modest, with 62 to 71% of participants correctly classified. Conclusions: Adherence to a multifaceted podiatry intervention in this trial ranged from 54 to 72%. People with better physical health, less fear of falling and a younger age exhibited greater adherence, suggesting that strategies need to be developed to enhance adherence in frailer older people who are most at risk of falling.Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000065392.
- Long-term consequences of an intensive care unit stay in older critically ill patients: design of a longitudinal study
Background: Modern methods in intensive care medicine often enable the survival of older critically ill patients. The short-term outcomes for patients treated in intensive care units (ICUs), such as survival to hospital discharge, are well documented. However, relatively little is known about subsequent long-term outcomes. Pain, anxiety and agitation are important stress factors for many critically ill patients. There are very few studies concerned with pain, anxiety and agitation and the consequences in older critically ill patients.The overall aim of this study is to identify how an ICU stay influences an older person's experiences later in life. More specific, this study has the following objectives: (1) to explore the relationship between pain, anxiety and agitation during ICU stays and experiences of the same symptoms in later life; and (2) to explore the associations between pain, anxiety and agitation experienced during ICU stays and their effect on subsequent health-related quality of life, use of the health care system (readmissions, doctor visits, rehabilitation, medication use), living situation, and survival after discharge and at 6 and 12 months of follow-up. Methods: A prospective, longitudinal study will be used for this study. A total of 150 older critically ill patients in the ICU will participate (ICU group). Pain, anxiety, agitation, morbidity, mortality, use of the health care system, and health-related quality of life will be measured at 3 intervals after a baseline assessment. Baseline measurements will be taken 48 hours after ICU admission and one week thereafter. Follow-up measurements will take place 6 months and 12 months after discharge from the ICU. To be able to interpret trends in scores on outcome variables in the ICU group, a comparison group of 150 participants, matched by age and gender, recruited from the Swiss population, will be interviewed at the same intervals as the ICU group.DiscussionLittle research has focused on long term consequences after ICU admission in older critically ill patients. The present study is specifically focussing on long term consequences of stress factors experienced during ICU admission.Trial registration: ISRCTN52754370.
- Cognitive Function is Associated with Risk Aversion in Community-Based Older Persons
Background: Emerging data from younger and middle-aged persons suggest that cognitive ability is negatively associated with risk aversion, but this association has not been studied among older persons who are at high risk of experiencing loss of cognitive function. Methods: Using data from 369 community-dwelling older persons without dementia from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, an ongoing longitudinal epidemiologic study of aging, we examined the correlates of risk aversion and tested the hypothesis that cognition is negatively associated with risk aversion. Global cognition and five specific cognitive abilities were measured via detailed cognitive testing, and risk aversion was measured using standard behavioral economics questions in which participants were asked to choose between a certain monetary payment ($15) versus a gamble in which they could gain more than $15 or gain nothing; potential gamble gains ranged from $21.79 to $151.19 with the gain amounts varied randomly over questions. We first examined the bivariate associations of age, education, sex, income and cognition with risk aversion. Next, we examined the associations between cognition and risk aversion via mixed models adjusted for age, sex, education, and income. Finally, we conducted sensitivity analyses to ensure that our results were not driven by persons with preclinical cognitive impairment. Results: In bivariate analyses, sex, education, income and global cognition were associated with risk aversion. However, in a mixed effect model, only sex (estimate=-1.49, standard error (SE)=0.39, p<0.001) and global cognitive function (estimate=-1.05, standard error (SE)=0.34, p<0.003) were significantly inversely associated with risk aversion. Thus, a lower level of global cognitive function and female sex were associated with greater risk aversion. Moreover, performance on four out of the five cognitive domains was negatively related to risk aversion (i.e., semantic memory, episodic memory, working memory, and perceptual speed); performance on visuospatial abilities was not. Conclusion: A lower level of cognitive ability and female sex are associated with greater risk aversion in advanced age.
- Patterns of ambulatory medical care utilization in elderly patients with special reference to chronic diseases and multimorbidity - Results from a claims data based observational study in Germany
Background: In order to estimate the future demands for health services, the analysis of current utilization patterns of the elderly is crucial. The aim of this study is to analyze ambulatory medical care utilization by elderly patients in relation to age, gender, number of chronic conditions, patterns of multimorbidity, and nursing dependency in Germany. Methods: Claims data of the year 2004 from 123,224 patients aged 65 years and over which are members of one nationwide operating statutory insurance company in Germany were studied. Multimorbidity was defined as the presence of 3 or more chronic conditions of a list of 46 most prevalent chronic conditions based on ICD 10 diagnoses. Utilization was analyzed by the number of contacts with practices of physicians working in the ambulatory medical care sector and by the number of different physicians contacted for every single chronic condition and their most frequent triadic combinations. Main statistical analyses were multidimensional frequency counts with standard deviations and confidence intervals, and multivariable linear regression analyses. Results: Multimorbid patients had more than twice as many contacts per year with physicians than those without multimorbidity (36 vs. 16). These contact frequencies were associated with visits to 5.7 different physicians per year in case of multimorbidity vs. 3.5 when multimorbidity was not present. The number of contacts and of physicians contacted increased steadily with the number of chronic conditions. The number of contacts varied between 35 and 54 per year and the number of contacted physicians varied between 5 to 7, depending on the presence of individual chronic diseases and/or their triadic combinations. The influence of gender or age on utilization was small and clinically almost irrelevant. The most important factor influencing physician contact was the presence of nursing dependency due to disability. Conclusion: In absolute terms, we found a very high rate of utilization of ambulatory medical care by the elderly in Germany, when multimorbidity and especially nursing dependency were present. The extent of utilization by the elderly was related both to the number of chronic conditions and to the individual multimorbidity patterns, but not to gender and almost not to age.
- Cognitive and memory training in adults at risk of dementia: A Systematic Review
Background: Effective non-pharmacological cognitive interventions to prevent Alzheimer's dementia or slow its progression are an urgent international priority. The aim of this review was to evaluate cognitive training trials in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and evaluate the efficacy of training in memory strategies or cognitive exercises to determine if cognitive training could benefit individuals at risk of developing dementia. Methods: A systematic review of eligible trials was undertaken, followed by effect size analysis. Cognitive training was differentiated from other cognitive interventions not meeting generally accepted definitions, and included both cognitive exercises and memory strategies. Results: Ten studies enrolling a total of 305 subjects met criteria for cognitive training in MCI. Only five of the studies were randomized controlled trials. Meta-analysis was not considered appropriate due to the heterogeneity of interventions. Moderate effects on memory outcomes were identified in seven trials. Cognitive exercises (relative effect sizes ranged from .10 to 1.21) may lead to greater benefits than memory strategies (.88 to -1.18) on memory. Conclusions: Previous conclusions of a lack of efficacy for cognitive training in MCI may have been influenced by not clearly defining the intervention. Our systematic review found that cognitive exercises can produce moderate-to-large beneficial effects on memory-related outcomes. However, the number of high quality RCTs remains low, and so further trials must be a priority. Several suggestions for the better design of cognitive training trials are provided.
- Sedative load of medications prescribed for older people with dementia in care homes
Background: The objective of this study was to determine the sedative load and use of sedative and psychotropic medications among older people with dementia living in (residential) care homes. Methods: Medication data were collected at baseline and at two further time-points for eligible residents of six care homes participating in the EVIDEM-End Of Life (EOL) study for whom medication administration records were available. Regular medications were classified using the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification system and individual sedative loads were calculated using a previously published model. Results: At baseline, the medication administration records were reviewed for 115 residents; medication records were reviewed for 112 and 105 residents at time-points 2 and 3 respectively. Approximately one-third of residents were not taking any medications with sedative properties at each time-point, while a significant proportion of residents had a low sedative load score of 1 or 2 (54.8%, 59.0% and 57.1% at baseline and time-points 2 and 3 respectively). More than 10% of residents had a high sedative load score ([greater than or equal to] 3) at baseline (12.2%), and this increased to 14.3% at time-points 2 and 3. Approximately two-thirds of residents (66.9%) were regularly prescribed one or more psychotropic medication(s). Antidepressants, predominantly SSRIs, were most frequently prescribed, while prescribing levels of sedative-hypnotics and anxiolytics were low. Throughout the duration of the study, prescribing of medications recognised as having prominent sedative adverse effects and/or containing sedative components outweighed the regular use of primary sedatives. Conclusions: Sedative load scores were similar throughout the study period for residents with dementia in each of the care homes. Scores were lower than previously reported in studies conducted in long-term care wards which have on site clinical support. Nevertheless, strategies to optimise drug therapy for care home residents with dementia which rely on clinicians external to the care home for support and medication review are required.
- Phenomenon of declining blood pressure in elderly - high systolic levels are undervalued with Korotkoff method.
Background: Systolic blood pressure (SBP) decline has been reported in octogenarians. The aim was to study if it could be observed while measuring SBP with two methods: Korotkoff (K-BP) and Strain-Gauge-Finger-Pletysmography (SG-BP), and which of them were more reliable in expressing vascular burden. Methods: A cohort of 703 men from a population of Malmo, Sweden, were included in "Men born in 1914-study" and followed-up at ages: 68 and 81 years. 176 survivors were examined with K-BP and SG-BP at both ages, and 104 of them with Ambulatory Blood Pressure at age 81/82. Ankle Brachial Index (ABI) was measured on both occasions, and Carotid Ultrasound at age 81. Results: From age 68 to 81, mean K-BP decreased in the cohort with mean 8.3 mmHg, while SG-BP increased with 13.4 mmHg. K-BP decreased in 55% and SG-BP in 31% of the subjects. At age 81, K-BP was lower than SG-BP in 72% of subjects, and correlated to high K-BP at age 68 (r= -.22; p<.05). SG-BP at age 81 was correlated with mean ambulatory 24-h SBP (r= .480 ; p<.0001), daytime SBP (r= .416 ; p<.0001), nighttime SBP (r= .395; p<.0001), and daytime and nighttime Pulse Pressure (r= .452; p<.0001 and r= .386; p<.0001). KB-BP correlated moderately only with nighttime SBP (r=.198; p=.044), and daytime and nightime pulse pressure (r= .225; p=.021 and r=.264; p=.007). Increasing SG-BP from age 68 to 81, but not K-BP, correlated with: 24-h, daytime and nighttime SBP, and mean daytime and nighttime Pulse Pressure. Increasing SG-BP was also predicted by high B-glucose and low ABI at age 68, and correlated with carotid stenosis and low ABI age 81, and the grade of ABI decrease over 13 years. Conclusion: In contrast to K-BP, values of SG-BP in octogenarians strongly correlated with Ambulatory Blood Pressure. The SG-BP decline in the last decade was rare, and increasing SG-BP better than K-BP reflected advanced atherosclerosis. It should be aware, that K-BP underdetected 46% of subjects with SG-BP equal/higher than 140 mmHg at age 81, which may lead to biased associations with risk factors due to differential misclassification by age
- Co-morbidity and drug treatment in Alzheimer's disease. A cross sectional study of participants in the Dementia Study in Northern Norway.
Background: Inappropriate medical treatment of co-morbidities in Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an increasing concern in geriatric medicine. The objective of this study was to compare current drug use related to co-morbidity between individuals with a recent diagnosis of AD and a cognitively healthy control group in a population based clinical trial in Northern Norway. Methods: Setting: Nine rural municipalities with 70 000 inhabitants in Northern Norway.Participants: Participants with and without AD recruited in general practice and by population based screening.187 participants with a recent diagnosis of AD were recruited among community dwellers. Of 791 respondents without cognitive symptoms, 500 were randomly selected and invited to further clinical and cognitive testing. The final control group consisted of 200 cognitively healthy individuals from the same municipalities. Demographic characteristics, data on medical history and current medication were included, and a physical and cognitive examination was performed. The statistical analyses were carried out by independent sample t-test, chi-square, ANCOVA and logistic regression. Results: A co-morbidity score was significantly higher in AD participants compared to controls. The mean number of drugs was higher for AD participants compared to controls (5.1 +/- 3.6 and 2.9 +/- 2.4 respectively, p<0.001 age and gender adjusted), also when adjusted for co-morbidity. AD participants used significantly more anticholinergic, sedative and antidepressant drugs. For nursing home residents with AD the mean number of drugs was significantly higher compared to AD participants living at home (6.9 +/- 3.9 and 4.5 +/- 3.3, respectively, p<0.001). Conclusions: AD participants were treated with a significantly higher number of drugs as compared to cognitively healthy controls, even after adjustment for co-morbidity. An inappropriate use of anticholinergic and sedative drugs was identified, especially among nursing home residents with AD. The drug burden and the increased risk of adverse reactions among individuals suffering from AD need more attention from prescribing doctors.
- Development of a short form of Mini-Mental State Examination for the screening of dementia in older adults with a memory complaint: a case control study
Background: Primary care physicians need a brief and accurate screening test of dementia. The objective of this study was to determine whether a short form of Mini-Mental State Examination (SMMSE) was as accurate as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) in screening dementia. Methods: Based on case control design study, SMMSE and MMSE were assessed in 184 community-dwelling older adults (mean age 81.3+/-6.5 years, 71.7% women) with memory complaint sent by their primary care physician to a memory clinic. Included participants were separated into two groups: cognitively healthy individuals and demented individuals. Results: The trade-off between sensitivity and specificity of the SMMSE for clinically diagnosed dementia was 4. Based on the cut-off value < 4 for SMMSE and a cut-off value < 24 for MMSE, the sensitivity of both tests was similar (89.5% for SMMSE versus 90.0% for MMSE), whereas the specificity, the positive predictive values (PPV) and the negative predictive values (NPV) were higher for SMMSE compared to MMSE (85.4 versus 75.5% for specificity; 95.5% versus 92.8% for PPV; 70.0 versus 68.9 for NPV). The positive and negative Likehood Ratio (LR) of SMMSE were higher than those of MMSE (respectively, 6.1 versus 3.7; 8.1 versus 7.7). In addition, odds ratio (OR) for dementia was higher for the SMMSE compared to the MMSE (OR=49.8 with 95% confident interval (CI) [18.0; 137.8] versus OR=28.6 with 95% CI [11.6; 70.3]). Conclusions: SMMSE seems to be an efficient short screening test for dementia among community-dwelling older adults with a memory complaint. Further research is needed to confirm its predictive values among unselected primary care older patients.
- A multifaceted intervention to implement guideline care and improve quality of care for older people who present to the emergency department with falls
Background: Guidelines recommend that older people should receive multi-factorial interventions following an injurious fall however there is limited evidence that this is routine practice. We aimed to improve the delivery of evidence based care to patients presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) following a fall. Methods: A prospective before and after study was undertaken in the ED of a medium-sized hospital in Perth, Western Australia. Participants comprised 313 community-dwelling patients, aged 65 years and older, presenting to ED as a result of a fall. A multi-faceted strategy to change practice was implemented and included a referral pathway, audit and feedback and additional falls specialist staff. Key measures to show improvements comprised the proportion of patients reviewed by allied health, proportion of patients referred for guideline care, quality of care index, all determined by record extraction. Results: Allied health staff increased the proportion of patients being reviewed from 62.7% in the before period to 89% after the intervention (P < 0.001). Before the intervention a referral for comprehensive guideline care occurred for only 6/177 (3.4%) of patients, afterwards for 28/136 (20.6%) (difference = 17.2%, 95% CI 11-23%). Average quality of care index (max score 100) increased from 18.6 (95% CI: 16.7-20.4) to 32.6 (28.6-36.6). Conclusions: A multi-faceted change strategy was associated with an improvement in allied health in ED prioritizing the review of ED fallers as well as subsequent referral for comprehensive geriatric care. The processes of multi-disciplinary care also improved, indicating improved care received by the patient.
- The validation of a new measure quantifying the social quality of life of ethnically diverse older women: two cross-sectional studies
Background: To our knowledge, the available psychometric literature does not include an instrument for the quantification of social quality of life among older women from diverse ethnic backgrounds. To address the need for a tool of this kind, we conducted two studies to assess the initial reliability and validity of a new instrument. The latter was created specifically to quantify the contribution of a) social networks and resources (e.g., family, friends, and community) as well as b) one's perceived power and respect within family and community to subjective well-being in non-clinical, ethnically diverse populations of older women. Methods: In Study 1, we recruited a cross-sectional sample of primarily non-European-American older women (N = 220) at a variety of community locations. Participants were administered the following: a short screener for dementia; a demographic list; an initial pool of 50 items from which the final items of the new Older Women's Social Quality of Life Inventory (OWSQLI) were to be chosen (based on a statistical criterion to apply to the factor analysis findings); the Single Item Measure of Social Support (SIMSS); and the Medical Outcome Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (MOS SF-36). Study 2 was conducted on a second independent sample of ethnically diverse older women. The same recruitment strategies, procedures, and instruments as those of Study 1 were utilized in Study 2, whose sample was comprised of 241 older women with mostly non-European-American ethnic status. Results: In Study 1, exploratory factor analysis of the OWSQLI obtained robust findings: the total variance explained by one single factor with the final selection of 22 items was over 44%. The OWSQLI demonstrated strong internal consistency (alpha = .92, p < .001), adequate criterion validity with the SIMSS (r = .33; p < .01), and (as expected) moderate concurrent validity with the MOS SF-36 for both physical (r = .21; p < .01) and mental (r = .26; p < .01) quality of life. In order to confirm the validity of the 22-item OWSQLI scale that emerged from Study 1 analyses, we replicated those analyses in Study 2, although using confirmatory factor analysis. The total variance accounted for by one factor was about 42%, again quite high and indicative of a strong single-factor solution. Study 2 data analyses yielded the same strong reliability findings (i.e., alpha = .92, p < .001). The 22-item OWSQLI was correlated with the SIMSS (r = .27, p < .001) in the expected direction. Finally, correlations with the MOS SF- 36 demonstrated moderate concurrent validity for physical (r = .14; p < .01) and mental (r = .18; p < .01) quality of life, as expected. Conclusions: The findings of these two studies highlight the potential for our new tool to provide a valid measure of older women's social quality of life, yet they require duplication in longitudinal research. Interested clinicians should consider using the OWSQLI in their assessment battery to identify older women's areas of lower versus higher social quality of life, and should establish the maximization of patients' social quality of life as an important therapeutic goal, as this variable is significantly related to both physical and mental health.
- Study Protocol: The Behaviour and Pain in Dementia Study (BePAID)
Background: People with dementia admitted to the acute hospital often receive poor quality care particularly with regards to management of behavioural and psychiatric symptoms of dementia (BPSD) and of pain. There have been no UK studies on the prevalence and type of pain or BPSD in people with dementia in this setting, or on how these may impact on patients, carers, staff and costs of care. Methods: We shall recruit older people with dementia who have unplanned acute medical admissions and measure the prevalence of BPSD using the Behave-AD (Behaviour in Alzheimer's Disease) and the CMAI (Cohen Mansfield Agitation Inventory). Pain prevalence and severity will be assessed by the PAINAD (Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia) and the FACES pain scale. We will then analyse how these impact on a variety of outcomes and test the hypothesis that poor management of pain is associated with worsening of BPSD.DiscussionBy demonstrating the costs of BPSD to individuals with dementia and the health service this study will provide important evidence to drive improvements in care. We can then develop effective training for acute hospital staff and alternative treatment strategies for BPSD in this setting.
- Features and outcomes of unplanned hospital admissions of older people due to ill-defined (R-coded) conditions: retrospective analysis of hospital admissions data in England
Background Rising rates of unplanned admissions among older people are placing unprecedented demand on health services internationally. Unplanned hospital admissions for ill-defined conditions (coded with an R prefix within Chapter XVIII of the International Classification of Diseases-10) have been targeted for admission avoidance strategies, but little is known about these admissions. The aim of this study was to determine the incidence and factors predicting ill-defined (R-coded) hospital admissions of older people and their association with health outcomes.Methods Retrospective analysis of unplanned hospital admissions to general internal and geriatric medicine wards in one hospital over 12 months (2002) with follow-up for 36 months. The study was carried out in an acute teaching hospital in England. The participants were all people aged 65 and over with unplanned hospital admissions to general internal and geriatric medicine. Independent variables included time of admission, residence at admission, route of admission to hospital, age, gender, comorbidity measured by count of diagnoses. Main outcome measures were primary diagnosis (ill-defined versus other diagnostic code), death during the hospital stay, deaths to 36 months, readmissions within 36 months, discharge destination and length of hospital stay.Results Incidence of R-codes at discharge was 21.6%, but was higher in general internal than geriatric medicine (25.6% v 14.1% respectively). Age, gender and co-morbidity were not significant predictors of R-code diagnoses. Admission via the emergency department (ED), out of normal general practitioner (GP) hours, under the care of general medicine and from non-residential care settings increased the risk of receiving R-codes. R-coded patients had a significantly shorter length of stay (5.91 days difference, 95% CI 4.47, 7.35), were less likely to die (hazard ratio 0.71, 95%CI 0.59, 0.85) at any point, but were as likely to be readmitted as other patients (hazard ratio 0.96 (95% CI 0.88, 1.05).Conclusions R-coded diagnoses accounted for 1/5 of emergency admission episodes, higher than anticipated from total English hospital admissions, but comparable with rates reported in similar settings in other countries. Unexpectedly, age did not predict R-coded diagnosis at discharge. Lower mortality and length of stay support the view that these are avoidable admissions, but readmission rates particularly for further R-coded admissions indicate on-going health care needs. Patient characteristics did not predict R-coding, but organisational features, particularly admission via the ED, out of normal GP hours and via general internal medicine, were important and may offer opportunity for admission reduction strategies.
- Validity and reliability of the Swaymeter device for measuring postural sway
Background: This study aimed to examine: 1) Swaymeter concurrent validity in discriminating between young and older adult populations; 2) Swaymeter convergent validity against a forceplate system; and 3) the immediate test-retest repeatability of postural sway measures obtained from the Swaymeter. Methods: Twenty-nine older adults aged 71 to 83 years and 11 young adults aged 22 to 47 years had postural sway measured simultaneously with the Swaymeter and a forceplate for three repeat 30 second trials, under four conditions (floor eyes open, floor eyes closed, foam eyes open, foam eyes closed). Results: Age-related differences in sway parameters across the four conditions were evident using the Swaymeter. Moderate-to-good correlations were found between Swaymeter and forceplate sway measures across conditions (r=0.560-0.865). Good agreement between the Swaymeter and forceplate were found for anteroposterior and mediolateral sway displacement measures (average offset = 6mm). Sway path length measures were longer for the forceplate compared to the Swaymeter (average offset = 376mm), but these data showed good agreement following log-transformation. The Swaymeter was reliable across trials, with intraclass correlation coefficients ranging from 0.654 to 0.944. Conclusions: The Swaymeter is a reliable tool for assessing postural sway and discriminates between performance of young and older people across multiple sensory conditions.
- Is the Nintendo Wii Fit really acceptable to older people': A discrete choice experiment
Background: Interactive video games such as the Nintendo Wii Fit are increasingly used as a therapeutic tool in health and aged care settings however, their acceptability to older people is unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the acceptability of the Nintendo Wii Fit as a therapy tool for hospitalised older people using a discrete choice experiment (DCE) before and after exposure to the intervention. Methods: A DCE was administered to 21 participants in an interview style format prior to, and following several sessions of using the Wii Fit in physiotherapy. The physiotherapist prescribed the Wii Fit activities, supervised and supported the patient during the therapy sessions. Attributes included in the DCE were: mode of therapy (traditional or using the Wii Fit), amount of therapy, cost of therapy program and percentage of recovery made. Data was analysed using conditional (fixed-effects) logistic regression. Results: Prior to commencing the therapy program participants were most concerned about therapy time (avoiding programs that were too intensive), and the amount of recovery they would make. Following the therapy program, participants were more concerned with the mode of therapy and preferred traditional therapy programs over programs using the Wii Fit. Conclusions: The usefulness of the Wii Fit as a therapy tool with hospitalised older people is limited not only by the small proportion of older people who are able to use it, but by older people's preferences for traditional approaches to therapy. Mainstream media portrayals of the popularity of the Wii Fit with older people may not reflect the true acceptability in the older hospitalised population.
- An interdisciplinary intervention to prevent falls in community-dwelling elderly persons: protocol of a cluster-randomized trial [PreFalls]
Background and objective: Prevention of falls in the elderly is a public health target in many countries around the world. While a large number of trials have investigated the effectiveness of fall prevention programs, few focussed on interventions embedded in the general practice setting and its related network. In the Prevent Falls (PreFalls) trial we aim to investigate the effectiveness of a pre-tested multi-modal intervention compared to usual care in this setting. Methods: PreFalls is a controlled multicenter prospective study with cluster-randomized allocation of about 40 general practices to an experimental or a control group. We aim to include 382 community dwelling persons aged 65 and older with an increased risk of falling. All participating general practitioners are trained to systematically assess the risk of falls using a set of validated tests. Patients from intervention practices are invited to participate in a 16-week exercise program with focus on fall prevention delivered by specifically trained local physiotherapists. Patients from practices allocated to the control group receive usual care. Main outcome measure is the number of falls per individual in the first 12 months (analysis by negative binomial regression). Secondary outcomes include falls in the second year, the proportion of participants falling in the first and the second year, falls associated with injury, risk of falls, fear of falling, physical activity and quality of life.DiscussionReducing falls in the elderly remains a major challenge. We believe that with its strong focus on a both systematic and realistic fall prevention strategy adapted to primary care setting PreFalls will be a valuable addition to the scientific literature in the field.Trial registration: NCT01032252
- Incident venous thromboembolic events in the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER)
Background: Venous thromboembolic events (VTE), including deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, are common in older age. It has been suggested that statins might reduce the risk of VTE however positive results from studies of middle aged subjects may not be generalisable to elderly people. We aimed to determine the effect of pravastatin on incident VTE in older people; we also studied the impact of clinical and plasma risk variables. Methods: This study was an analysis of incident VTE using data from the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER), a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pravastatin in men and women aged 70-82. Mean follow-up was 3.2 years. Risk for VTE was examined in non-warfarin treated pravastatin (n=2834) and placebo (n=2865) patients using a Cox's proportional hazard model, and the impact of other risk factors assessed in a multivariate forward stepwise regression analysis. Baseline clinical characteristics, blood biochemistry and hematology variables, plasma levels of lipids and lipoproteins, and plasma markers of inflammation and adiposity were compared. Plasma markers of thrombosis and hemostasis were assessed in a nested case (n=48) control (n=93) study where the cohort was those participants, not on warfarin, for whom data were available. Results: There were 28 definite cases (1.0%) of incident VTE in the pravastatin group recipients and 20 cases (0.70%) in placebo recipients. Pravastatin did not reduce VTE in PROSPER compared to placebo [unadjusted hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) 1.42 (0.80, 2.52) p=0.23]. Higher body mass index (BMI) [1.09 (1.02, 1.15) p=0.0075], country [Scotland vs Netherlands 4.26 (1.00, 18.21) p=0.050 and Ireland vs Netherlands 6.16 (1.46, 26.00) p=0.013], lower systolic blood pressure [1.35 (1.03, 1.75) p=0.027] and lower baseline Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) score [1.19 (1.01, 1.41) p=0.034] were associated with an increased risk of VTE, however only BMI, country and systolic blood pressure remained significant on multivariate analysis. In a nested case control study of definite VTE, plasma Factor VIII levels were associated with VTE [1.52 (1.01, 2.28), p=0.044]. However no other measure of thrombosis and haemostasis was associated with increased risk of VTE. Conclusions: Pravastatin does not prevent VTE in elderly people at risk of vascular disease. Blood markers of haemostasis and inflammation are not strongly predictive of VTE in older age however BMI, country and lower systolic blood pressure are independently associated with VTE risk.
- Effects of oral intake of water in patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia
Background: Dysphagia is associated with numerous medical conditions and the major intervention to avoid aspiration in people with dysphagia involves modifying the diet to thickened fluids. This is associated with issues related to patient quality of life and in many cases non-compliance leading to dehydration. Given these concerns and in the absence of conclusive scientific evidence, we designed a study, to further investigate the effects of oral intake of water in people with dysphagia. Methods: We monitored lung related complications, hydration levels and assessed quality of life in two groups of people with dysphagia. The control group was allowed only thickened fluids and patients in the intervention group were allowed access to water for a period of five days. Results: Our findings indicate a significantly increased risk in the development lung complications in patients given access to water (6/42; 14.3%) compared to the control group (0/34; no cases). We have further defined patients at highest risk, namely those with degenerative neurologic dysfunction who are immobile or have low mobility. Our results indicate increased total fluid intake in the patients allowed access to water, and the quality of life surveys, albeit from a limited number of patients (24% of patients), suggest the dissatisfaction of patients to diets composed of only thickened fluids. Conclusions: On the basis of these findings we recommend that acute patients, patients with severe neurological dysfunction and immobility should be strongly encouraged to adhere to a thickened fluid or modified solid consistency diet. We recommend that subacute patients with relatively good mobility should have choice after being well-informed of the relative risk.Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000107325