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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018 Dec 13. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15708. [Epub ahead of print]

Relationship between Functional Improvement and Cognition in Short-Stay Nursing Home Residents.

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Department of Health Services, Policy and Practice, School of Public Health, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
Division of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas.
Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Providence, Rhode Island.



Improving function is an important outcome of postacute care in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), but cognitive impairment can limit a resident's ability to improve during a postacute care stay. Our objective was to examine the association between residents' cognitive status on admission and change in self-care and mobility during a Medicare-covered SNF stay.


Retrospective analysis of Medicare beneficiaries who had a new SNF stay between January and June 2017.


SNFs in the United States.


Newly admitted residents with Medicare-covered SNF stays between January and June 2017 (n = 246 395).


Residents' self-care and mobility at SNF admission and discharge were determined using items from Section GG (eating, oral hygiene, toileting hygiene, sit to lying, lying to sitting, sit to stand, chair/bed transfer, and toilet transfer) of the Minimum Data Set. Residents were classified as cognitively intact, mildly impaired, moderately impaired, or severely impaired, according to the Cognitive Function Scale. Multivariable regression models controlling for residents' demographic and clinical characteristics and SNF fixed effects were used to identify residents whose discharge scores for self-care and mobility were better or the same as expected according to their cognitive status on admission.


Residents who were cognitively impaired on admission had lower functional status on admission and were less likely to improve in self-care and mobility compared with residents who were cognitively intact. Approximately 63% of residents who were cognitively intact had discharge scores for self-care and mobility that were better or the same as expected compared with 45% of residents with severe cognitive impairment.


Cognitive impairment is associated with poorer self-care and mobility function among SNF residents. These findings have important implications for clinicians, who may need additional support when caring for residents with cognitive impairment to make the same improvements in functional status as residents who are cognitively intact.


cognitive impairment; functional status; nursing homes; quality measures


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