Many Seniors Do Not Receive Appropriate Care for Age-Related Conditions, Study Finds
U.S. seniors receive the appropriate care for age-related conditions, such as dementia and malnutrition, only 31% of the time, compared with 52% of the time for general medical conditions such as heart disease, according to a study published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, USA Today reports (Fackelmann, USA Today, 11/4). In the study, Dr. Neil Wenger, a RAND Health researcher and a professor of medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, and colleagues interviewed a random sample of 420 U.S. residents ages 65 and older who were enrolled in one of two HMOs located in the northeastern and southwestern United States, received care between July 1998 and July 1999 and were considered at risk for functional decline and death. The study evaluated the quality of care that participants received based on 207 established quality indicators for prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow up for general medical and age-related conditions (Wenger et al., Annals of Internal Medicine, 11/4). The study found that among general medical conditions, participants received appropriate care for heart disease 55% of the time and pneumonia 49% of the time. In addition, the study found that among age-related conditions, participants received appropriate care for malnutrition 47% of the time, dementia 35% of the time, falls and mobility disorders 34% of the time, urinary incontinence 29% of the time and end-of-life care 9% of the time. The study indicates that health care providers may "overlook some common problems of old age -- a lapse that can lead to multiple health issues," according to USA Today. However, former American Medical Association President Yank Coble said that researchers must conduct larger studies to prove that "seniors across the nation aren't getting the care they need," USA Today reports (USA Today, 11/4). The study is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.