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Nursing Home More Likely If Patient Has Unmet Needs

A caregiver assessment of needs may be better outcome predictor than functional or cognitive status

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Dementia patients who have unmet needs as assessed by their caregiver are more likely to die or be placed in a nursing home, according to a study in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The finding suggests that unmet needs are a better predictor of health outcome than functional or cognitive impairment, the authors say.

Joseph E. Gaugler, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues conducted an 18-month longitudinal study of 5,831 dementia patients and their caregivers to assess the functional, cognitive and behavioral status of the patients and the stress and well-being of caregivers.

The researchers found that caregivers who reported that the patient had unmet needs for specific activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living were 26% more likely to place patients in nursing homes, 17% more likely to experience the death of patients, and 20% more likely to exit the study for some other reason.

"The findings here indicate that the incorporation of unmet need in future assessment protocols may result in more refined and potentially effective intervention approaches that can directly target the changing needs of families (i.e., caregivers and care recipients) throughout the course of dementia," the authors conclude.

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