New Assessment Tool Predicts When Alzheimer’s Patients Will Need Nursing Home Care

New Assessment Tool Predicts When Alzheimer’s Patients Will Need Nursing Home Care

The issue of when to move a loved one into a nursing home facility may have just gotten a little bit easier, new research suggests. A routine assessment tool has been created that helps predict when an Alzheimer’s patient will need nursing home level long term care.

Development

Researchers at the Medical Center at Columbia University developed this new tool by evaluating around 500 Alzheimer’s patients over a 10 year period. Through their studies, they found 16 variables that have the most impact on the disease and can best estimate when a higher level of long term care will be necessary.

A couple of the newly defined variables include the patient’s degree of rigidity and their ability to take part in daily activities. The researchers involved with the study indicate that all 16 variables can be determined in just 1 single doctor’s visit and they have proven to be extremely accurate in terms of predictions.

When an individual with Alzheimer’s begins to need help with tasks like eating, using the bathroom, and basic mobility, that shift usually evidence the need for nursing home care, where there is constant supervision and medical attention on hand. To make the prediction tool more helpful to doctors, the Columbia researchers are also creating a computer program that generates a report with the assessment results using the information entered by health professionals.

Application

As more individuals choose to age in place and remain in their homes with loved ones as caregivers, this has become an increasingly important issue to address in a timely manner. Though receiving care at home is preferred, once the patient’s condition begins to deteriorate, it can be difficult to know whether or not it is the right time to begin looking at long term care facilities.

All too often, Alzheimer’s patients who live at home stay there for too long and may end up facing a household accident, injury, or wandering away from home. These incidents all pose extreme danger to both the patient as well as to the caregiver and any one else residing in the home.

Rather than ignore the potential risks for the comfort of home, this new assessment tool can help patients and caregivers better understand the progression of the disease and recognize the signs that it is time to transition into nursing home care.

Long Term Care

More than 5 million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and the majority of those people receive long term care from a family member or other loved one, not a professional licensed caregiver. The cost of licensed long term care is often too high for the majority of people, and even more so if they have not already set aside some money for health care in retirement.

Unpaid caregivers provide an estimated $450 billion in unpaid care annually, according to the AARP. The magnitude of this problem is by no means small and most people can name someone in their lives who has received care from a loved one, whether it was for a few months or several years. The stress associated with family caregiving can be overwhelming and this assessment tool can help decrease that stress, by providing better insight into the mental and physical condition of the patient. This insight can help prevent a family caregiver from becoming overwhelmed with medical problems and issues that they are unable to adequately address.

The cost of long term care is something that many people often forget to include in their retirement plans, though it can make all the difference. Find out more about planning for long term care in retirement or request more information about long term care insurance, including a personalized quote comparison of the top rated companies.

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