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Being unhealthy in your sixties increases risk of nursing home admission

Being unhealthy in your sixties increases risk of nursing home admission

People in their sixties with the unhealthiest lifestyles are more likely to need nursing home care over the next decade, a study suggests.

Australian research of more than 127,000 men and women found those aged 60-64 in the least healthy category because of smoking, poor diet, sleep disorders and low physical activity had double the risk of being admitted to a nursing home during follow up.

Over a median follow up of 11 years, 18% of participants were admitted to a nursing home, researchers reported in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

The risk of nursing home admission was 43% higher for those in the unhealthiest category – around one in seven people – compared with those with a low-risk lifestyle score.

Those in the middle – around two thirds of participants – had a 12% higher risk of admission to a nursing home, the researchers said.

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In fact, all the key lifestyle factors, with the exception of diet, were independently associated with nursing home care, particularly current smoking which was with a 55% higher admission risk.

Overall, the association was found to be strongest with those aged 60-74 years rather than those over 75 years, the researchers added.

Modifying lifestyle – especially smoking cessation, reducing sitting time, increasing physical activity and improving sleep – should be explored as ways to reduce the future risk of nursing home admission, they concluded.

While the benefits of promoting a healthy lifestyle are well known, the avoidance of nursing home care admission could be an extra motivating factor, they added. 

‘Furthermore, our findings may also incentivise government investment in preventative healthcare and health promotion given the greater cost associated with caring for people in institutions,’ they said.

Yesterday, it was announced that the NHS will pilot the use of a puzzles app that can alert GPs to when elderly patients show signs of developing dementia.


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