New Study Shows Elderly Who Live at Home are More Likely to Die in a Hospital

Most elderly people will tell you they’d rather remain in their homes as they age rather than going to live in a care facility. Now a new study shows that those who live at home are MORE likely to die in a hospital. That’s because the elderly who live in their homes often do not receive the care of a nursing professional, resulting in a trip to the emergency room, and, eventually, death in a hospital bed.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College in London. It was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services & Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Program. But even though it was conducted in the United Kingdom, its findings are applicable in the United States.

The study found that 42 per cent of patients with advanced non-malignant conditions reported a preference for home death, yet only 12 per cent of deaths from respiratory and neurological conditions occur at home, and only 6 per cent for dementia.

The research found that living alone reduced the chance of home death. Support at home from family members without professional experience made the chance of hospital death three times more likely than when professionals like home health care nurses were involved. The report found that professional home health care, either to support family carers or to provide direct care, ensured that more patients with advanced non-malignant conditions can die at home.

Patients who stay home spend more time in acute hospital care and are less likely to die at home in familiar surroundings, the report shows. Researchers suggested that “enhanced home care and family support” could reduce the number of deaths in hospitals.

The research also found that:

–The presence or absence of a family or informal caregiver is a key component in enabling dying at home. Effective and sustained support for the primary caregiver — through a palliative care nurse or a hospice nurse — is likely to increase rates of death at home.

— Advance care planning is especially important for older people as their preferences are complex and may evolve over time. The advanced care planning they require needs skilled professionals who can review and revise preferences and plan sensitively and frequently in response to change.

— For patients with chronic heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, whose pattern of illness is harder to predict, deterioration is often not discussed, preventing people from planning ahead to ensure their preferred place of care and death is achieved.

Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois nursing home abuse lawsuits for over 36 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Evanston, Schaumburg, Oak Lawn, and Warrenville.

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