New Pilot Shows Older Americans Aging in Place Longer

An 18-month pilot program that provides at-home care for seniors living with dementia can keep them living in their homes longer by prolonging the transition to other care settings, a new study finds. 

Alzheimer disease and related dementias affect 5.4 million Americans, with 80% receiving care in the community by 15 million unpaid, informal caregivers, notes the study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers. 

While dementia is often associated with high healthcare costs and long-term care placement, a program called The Maximizing Independence at Home (MIND) Pilot showed seniors living safely in their homes for longer periods of time before the need to transfer to a long-term care facility or institutionalized setting. 

Over an 18-month period, seniors who received care coordination under the MIND program via home visits were able to live in their homes a median of 288 extra days.

“Consistent with two prior trials, it appears that multicomponent supportive dementia care programs can improve the ability to age-in-place,” writes Dr. Quincy M. Samus, the study’s lead author. “This is the first study to our knowledge that has demonstrated a significant impact on time to leaving the home when the intervention duration is less than 24 months.”

Participants in the MIND program included 303 seniors age 70 and older with cognitive disorders. Of these total seniors, 265 had dementia and 38 with mild cognitive impairment. 

Coordinators in the trial conducted a number of assessments related to home safety, nutrition and physical health.

None of the coordinators had clinical backgrounds or prior training in caring for individuals with cognitive disorders—suggesting the opportunity to maximize the potential future workforce’s ability in implementing MIND. 

Johns Hopkins researchers also found that seniors involved with the program that met regularly with care coordinators were significantly less likely to leave their homes or die than those in the control group—30% compared to 45.6%, respectively. 

“This approach is responsive to the National Alzheimer’s Project Act and has the potential to reshape the current dementia care delivery paradigm by linking, in a novel and cost-efficient way, medical and community-based care services,” Samus writes.

View the JHU Study.

Written by Jason Oliva

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