THURSDAY, June 10, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Many nursing home residents spend too much time in bed -- 15 to 17 hours a day -- mainly because of their high disability levels and too few staff to look after them, says a UCLA-Jewish Home for the Aging Center study.
The more time nursing home residents spent in bed during the day, the more they slept during the day, the more socially isolated they were and the less they ate, the study found.
"Though they didn't surprise us, the findings are important," study author Dr. Barbara M. Bates-Jensen, an adjunct assistant professor at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.
"They sharpen the focus on a widespread problem that has been inadequately addressed despite its serious health implications and negative impact on quality of life. The irony is this highly regulated industry offers no regulatory advice for getting residents up and out of bed," she said.
The study included 882 long-stay residents in 34 Southern California nursing homes.
Bates-Jensen and her colleagues compared nursing homes with low staffing levels -- less than 3.4 staff hours per resident per day -- to nursing homes with the highest staffing levels -- more than 3.7 staff hours per resident per day.
Residents in the lower-staffed facilities spent an average of five hours a day, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., in bed compared to an average of three hours per day for residents in high-staffed nursing homes.
Many nursing home residents are put to bed by 7 p.m. That means residents of low-staffed nursing homes could spend as much as an average of 17 hours a day in bed, the study said.
Leaving nursing home residents with physical disabilities to linger in bed could result in a more rapid decline of their health, the study authors said.
The study appears in the June issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The American Medical Association has more about nursing homes.