Background — Self-care disability is dependence on others to conduct activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating and dressing. Among long-term care residents, self-care disability lowers quality of life and increases health care costs. Understanding the correlates of self-care disability in this population is critical to guide clinical care and ongoing research in Geriatrics. This study examines which resident geriatric syndromes and chronic conditions are associated with residents’ self-care disability and whether these relationships vary across strata of age, sex and cognitive status. It also describes the proportion of variance in residents’ self-care disability that is explained by residents’ geriatric syndromes versus long-term care home characteristics.
Methods — We conducted a cross-sectional study using a health administrative cohort of 77,165 long-term care home residents residing in 614 Ontario long-term care homes. Eligible residents had their self-care disability assessed using the RAI-MDS 2.0 activities of daily living long-form score (range: 0–28) within 90 days of April 1st, 2011. Hierarchical multivariable regression models with random effects for long-term care homes were used to estimate the association between self-care disability and resident geriatric syndromes, chronic conditions and long-term care home characteristics. Differences in findings across strata of sex, age and cognitive status (cognitively intact versus cognitively impaired) were examined.
Results — Geriatric syndromes were much more strongly associated with self-care disability than chronic conditions in multivariable models. The direction and size of some of these effects were different for cognitively impaired versus cognitively intact residents. Residents’ geriatric syndromes explained 50% of the variation in their self-care disability scores, while characteristics of long-term care homes explained an additional 2% of variation.
Conclusion — Differences in long-term care residents’ self-care disability are largely explained by prevalent geriatric syndromes. After adjusting for resident characteristics, there is little variation in self-care disability associated with long-term care home characteristics. This suggests that residents’ geriatric syndromes—not the homes in which they live—may be the appropriate target of interventions to reduce self-care disability, and that such interventions may need to differ for cognitively impaired versus unimpaired residents.
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Geriatrics and aging
Chronic diseases and conditions