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Cirrhosis Ups Disability, Health Care Utilization in Seniors

Individuals with cirrhosis receive more informal caregiving at an annual cost of $4,700 per person

FRIDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Older individuals with cirrhosis have higher rates of health care utilization, disability, and requirements for informal caregiving than those without cirrhosis, according to a study published in the January issue of Hepatology.

Mina Rakoski, M.D., of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used data from the National Institute on Aging's Health and Retirement Study to compare the primary outcome domains of health status and informal caregiving for 317 patients with cirrhosis and an age-matched group of 951 individuals without cirrhosis. The association between cirrhosis and functional disability was assessed.

The researchers found that individuals with cirrhosis had worse self-reported health status and more comorbidities than individuals without cirrhosis. They also used significantly more health care services, including hospitalizations, nursing home stays, and physician visits. Those with cirrhosis had significantly greater functional disability for activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living, even after adjusting for confounding variables such as comorbidities and health care utilization. More than twice the number of weekly hours of informal caregiving were received by individuals with cirrhosis, at an annual cost of $4,700 per person.

"Older Americans with cirrhosis have high rates of disability, health care utilization, and need for informal caregiving," the authors write. "Improved care coordination and caregiver support is necessary to optimize management of this frail population."

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