Long-stay nursing home residents 50 years old and younger are hospitalized at twice the rate of those aged 80 and older, according to a new study. These findings counter the popularly held idea that hospitalizations increase with age and fragility.
The authors analyzed federal acute-care transfer data and found that the annual hospital transfer rates actually decreased with age. Factors associated with increased transfers included prior hip fracture, dialysis, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, daily pain, anemia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
However, while they had lower hospitalization rates, older residents had a higher rate of cognitive decline, dementia, and diabetes. They also were more likely to have a documented preference for comfort care in life-limiting situations.
These findings are significant, the authors suggested, as about 1 in 6 long-stay residents in the U.S. are younger than age 65. They observed, “Younger nursing home residents may require specialized interventions to reduce hospital transfers; declining transfer rates with the oldest age groups may reflect preferences for comfort-focused care.”
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