12 Jun 2015

High dependency on rest homes likely

9:14 am on 12 June 2015

A new study has found that almost half of New Zealanders aged 65 or older will die in rest homes, geriatric hospitals and dementia care facilities.

The study was carried out by the Auckland University Freemason's Department of Geriatric Medicine.

The figure for people dying in residential aged care was previously thought to be about 40 percent.

But Senior Research Fellow Joanna Broad said what was not known was the extent of people living in residential care who die during a stay in acute hospitals.

"So we looked at four sources to estimate that and found that was another nine percent. About half of all older New Zealanders will move into care at some stage of their lives," she said.

Ms Broad said high usage of residential aged care indicated a demand for these services but also a lack of appropriate alternatives.

Co-author Professor Martin Connolly said more research was required to determine if entry to residential aged care can be delayed for people with high dependency, without reducing quality of life.

"Such initiatives may improve management of chronic diseases, reduce falls, facilitate transitions back into the community after discharge, provide day-care for people with dementia or other needs, and enable shared or sheltered accommodation," he said.

Ms Broad said the method used in this study - using recent summaries of place of death in conjunction with estimates of in hospital deaths or residential aged care residents - was simpler and required less complex data and analyses than other methods used for estimating lifetime risk.

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