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Older adults who live with dementia at home tend to be sicker and socially more challenging than their counterparts, as discovered in the latest research.

This implies that home care providers who have established themselves as dementia specialists will probably have a difficult task on their hands.

More than 5.7 million older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementia are living in the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately one in three seniors passes away with some kind of dementia.

Despite the increasing number of older adults who want to age at home, the health and social features of the in-home dementia population are fairly unknown.

Team of researchers from the University of California San Francisco who conducted the study analyzed medical conditions of 728 adults over 65 years of age in three environments: their homes, residential care and nursing homes.

Researchers have generally discovered that older adults at home with moderately severe dementia had worse overall health, greater co-morbidity rates and dealing with more pain.

But according to the authors of this study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on Aug. 7, 2019, results should not be taken as a call to move people with moderately severe dementia away from their homes rapidly.

“Rates of nursing home use are declining because they are expensive and people generally prefer the familiarity of home,” said first author Krista Harrison, PhD, of the UCSF Division of Geriatrics. “People with dementia benefit from consistent and predictable environments and caregivers. Nursing homes may offer more people to help with medical and social needs, but that might mean sharing a room with someone with different daily habits or distressing behavior symptoms.”

“Some people with dementia who live at home receive home-based primary, geriatric or palliative care, but many more likely do not. There is an urgent need for these services – as well as home health aides and other social supports — to become widely available to those families providing home care for loved ones with dementia.”

A growing number of home care providers in recent years have established specific service lines for the care of elderly dementia patients. Research team hopes that the study they conducted will assist these and other providers to move in the correct direction in order to guarantee quality care at home.

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