WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- A new system of caring for people with dementia in their homes could keep them from having to move into nursing homes and improve their quality of life, new research suggests.
The program starts with a home visit by a team made up of a nurse, a psychiatrist and a care coordinator, who acts as team leader. The team determines the person's needs, such as fall-proofing their bathroom or keeping track of their medications, and counsels the person and their caregiver. The care coordinator follows up at least once a month, depending on the person's needs.
In the current study, researchers tested the effectiveness of this program for 18 months in more than 300 people over the age of 70 who had mental impairments, most commonly dementia.
Among the people who received counseling and follow-up, 70 percent were still living at home at the end of the 18 months. In contrast, about 50 percent of a usual care ("control") group had moved into a nursing home, hospital or assisted-living facility, or passed away.
The study is to be presented Wednesday at the Alzheimer's Association annual meeting in Vancouver.
"We were surprised that we found that fewer [in the treatment group] permanently left their homes, because that is something that is pretty difficult to show," said study author Quincy Miles Samus, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
There are many aspects of their home-based care program, including improving safety and health care, and counseling caregivers.
"We really need to understand the active ingredients of the intervention," Samus said.
Although at-home visits are covered by Medicare for people with chronic conditions such as dementia, they are usually aimed at improving one specific function, such as teaching someone how to administer the
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