Care Needs of Higher-Functioning Nursing Home Residents

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Objectives: To quantify and characterize the chronic conditions of older Americans who live in nursing homes (NHs) but have minimal disability and might be able to live in less restrictive and less expensive settings. Design: Secondary analysis of the 1999 National Nursing Home Survey. Participants: NH staff memebers familiar with the care of residents who were 65 years or older and had resided in the NH for more than 100 days. Measurements: We defined "higher-functioning" residents as those who received help from NH staff in 0-2 activities of daily living. We then classified these higher-functioning residents according to their conditions requiring chronic care: impaired mobility, conditions requiring rehabilitation, mental health disorders, incontinence, severe sensory impairment, and medical conditions (congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, Parkinson's disease). Results: One-fifth (19.8%) of the NH residents met the criteria for "higher-functioning" (n=1145). Of these, 64.1% had mental disorders, 40.4% had impaired mobility, 20.6% were incontinent, 18% had conditions requiring rehabilitative therapy, 8.7% had severe sensory impairment, and 43.0% had one or more of the four medical diagnoses. Conclusion: Many higher-functioning long-stay nursing home residents have chronic care needs that are similar to those of older adults who live in private residences. Many such persons may be able to live in community settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-412
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • care needs
  • function
  • nursing home

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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