Care Trajectories in the Oldest Old

University dissertation from Jönköping : Hälsohögskolan

Abstract: This thesis demonstrates relations among health, social network, ADL and patterns of care in the oldest old guided by a resource theoretical model.The analyzed data are based on two studies: the Nona study, a longitudinal study of 157 individuals aged 86 to 94 years, and the H70 study, a longitudinal study of 964 individuals aged 70 at baseline. Data were collected by interviews and to some extent in the H70 study, medical exams and medical records.The results demonstrate that perceived resources seem to affect patterns of care to a higher extent than the more objective resources in the sample of the oldest old. On the other hand, sociodemographic variables such as gender, marital status and SES, in addition to the more objective resources of having children nearby and the number of symptoms of illness predicted institutionalization during a subsequent 30-year period from the age of 70. The proportion of elderly persons’ institutionalization was further significantly higher than that generally found in cross-sectional studies. ADL was one of the strongest predictors for both use of formal care and institutionalization in both samples, indicating an effective targeting of the formal care system in Sweden. The care at end of life in the oldest old is challenged by the problems with progressive declines in ADL and health, which makes it hard to fit in the dying oldest old in the palliative care system. There is a need to increase the knowledge and the possibility for care staff to support and encourage social network factors and for decision-making staff to consider factors beyond ADL.

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