The Spectrum of Medical Illness and Medication Use Among Residents of Assisted Living Facilities in Central Maryland

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Background: Although increasing numbers of older adults are living in assisted living facilities, there is little information on the types and amount of chronic medical illness and the medications required by such residents. To better inform efforts to optimize care in this setting, we sought to quantify chronic medical illnesses and their treatment. Methods: Medical diagnoses and treatments were derived from chart reviews and interviews of 198 residents of 22 randomly selected assisted living facilities (AL) in central Maryland. To evaluate the burden of medical illnesses, chronic conditions were categorized and quantified according to general (organ system) diseases, as well as 7 specific long-term care Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG). Using logistic regression, we calculated the associations between facility-level characteristics and those residents with a) conditions from 3 or more general disease categories and, b) 2 or more CPG conditions. To evaluate medical treatment complexity, we categorized oral and certain non-oral medications, as well medications that typically require additional monitoring. Results: Almost one-half (46%) of AL residents had chronic conditions in 3 or more different general disease categories and one-fourth (25.2%) had 2 or more specific Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) conditions. Residents with chronic conditions in 3 or more different general disease groups were more likely to live in larger facilities; otherwise, no other facility-level characteristics that we assessed were associated with residents having conditions from 3 or more general disease categories or 2 or more CPG conditions. One-half of all residents were taking medications that typically require additional monitoring and 25% of residents were receiving treatments of respiratory inhalers, eye drops and/or injections. Conclusions: Many AL residents have multiple medical illnesses of different types and complexity. Given the increasing role of AL providers in the management of such conditions, appropriate adjustments in care provision will be needed for facilities to meet the needs of these residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-564
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2008



  • Assisted living facilities
  • chronic medical illness
  • medications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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