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Regenstrief, IU study: Half of hospitalized adults over 65 need surrogate decision-makers
Date:1/22/2014

INDIANAPOLIS -- Nearly half of hospitalized American adults age 65 and older require decision-making assistance from family members or other surrogates because the patient is too impaired to make decisions independently, according to a new study from the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University Center for Aging Research. The vast majority of surrogates are children or spouses, and some patients have two or more family member making decisions together.

More than 13 million older adults are hospitalized annually in the United States, and that number is projected to increase as the population ages. This means that each year, millions of family members will have to make serious decisions for a hospitalized older adult.

Surrogates will commonly face decisions about life-sustaining care, such as whether to revive a loved one if his or her heart were to stop, as well as decisions about medical procedures and whether to send the patient to a nursing facility upon discharge.

"As the population ages, family members of older adults should prepare for the crucial role they may play when their loved ones are hospitalized," said Regenstrief Institute investigator Alexia Torke, M.D., M.S., associate professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, who led the study.

A higher proportion of intensive care patients needed surrogate decision-making, but the majority of patients in the study who required a surrogate were admitted to the general medicine wards, suggesting that families are needed to make decisions throughout the hospital.

"Scope and Outcomes of Surrogate Decision-Making Among Hospitalized Older Adults" was published online Jan. 20 in advance of print publication in the March 2014 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.

Before this study, little was known about the frequency and scope of decision-making by family members or other surrogates according to Dr. Torke. The investigators
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Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
caisen@iupui.edu
317-843-2276
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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Regenstrief, IU study: Half of hospitalized adults over 65 need surrogate decision-makers
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