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Osteoporosis 'neglected' in nursing homes

Osteoporosis care in nursing and residential homes falls well below acceptable standards, particularly for dementia patients, a new study concludes.

Researchers found up to three-quarters of patients were taking sedatives, raising their risk of falls, but only a tiny minority received appropriate osteoporosis treatment. They warned patients in care homes were 'neglected' and needed targeted advice and treatment.

Study leader Dr Terry Aspray, consultant geriatrician at Newcastle General Hospital, said: 'Osteoporosis and fracture risk are neglected in care homes. Mentally infirm care homes are a particular source of concern. We recommend a proactive approach, with higher prescribing of calcium and vitamin D supplements and bisphosphonates.'

The study, in Age and Ageing (January), evaluated care in 392 patients at residential and nursing homes for elderly people with or without dementia. It found 69 per cent had osteoporosis, defined by a T score of -1.6 or less, but only 1 per cent were taking bisphosphonates.

The proportion taking combined calcium and vitamin D varied from 12 per cent in standard nursing homes to 3 per cent in specialist nursing homes for the mentally infirm. Sedative use ranged from 50 to 77 per cent and was higher in the mentally infirm.

Dr Peter Stott, member of the National Osteoporosis Society scientific forum and a GP in Tadworth, Surrey, said: 'It often takes a PCT dictat to ensure treatment in nursing homes,' and that it would take GP incentives to improve standards.

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