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Health Soc Care Community. 2005 Sep;13(5):420-30.

The last 3 months of life: care, transitions and the place of death of older people.

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  • 1Department of Palliative Care, Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. m.klinkenberg@ikca.nl


Many older people die in hospitals, whereas research indicates that they would prefer to die at home. Little is known about the factors associated with place of death. The aim of the present study was to investigate the care received by older people in the last 3 months of their life, the transitions in care and the predictors of place of death. In this population-based study, interviews were held with 270 proxy respondents to obtain data on 342 deceased participants (79% response rate) in the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. In the last 3 months of life, the utilisation of formal care increased. Half of the community-dwelling older people and their families were confronted with transitions to institutional care, in most cases to hospitals. Women relied less often on informal care only, and were more dependent than men on institutional care. For people who only received informal care, the odds of dying in a hospital were 3.68 times the odds for those who received a combination of formal and informal home care. The chance of dying in a hospital was also related to the geographical region. The authors argue that future research is needed into the association that they found in the present study, i.e. that decedents who received both formal and informal care were more likely to die at home. In view of the differences found in geographical region in relation to place of death, further investigation of regional differences in the availability and accessibility of care is indicated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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