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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019 Jun;67(6):1248-1252. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15822. Epub 2019 Mar 4.

Taking to Bed at the End of Life.

Author information

1
Yale School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate the time course of "taking to bed" at the end of life and determine whether it differs according to age, sex, and condition leading to death.

DESIGN:

Prospective longitudinal study.

SETTING:

Greater New Haven, Connecticut.

PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 651 decedents from a cohort of 754 community-living persons, 70+ years of age.

MEASUREMENTS:

During the last 2 years of life, the occurrence of bed rest and number of days in bed, two indicators of bed rest burden, were ascertained each month. Bed rest was defined as staying in bed for at least a half day due to an illness, injury, or other problem.

RESULTS:

The occurrence of bed rest increased modestly from 12.4% at 24 months before death to 19.0% at 5 months before death, before increasing exponentially to 51.6% at 1 month before death. The median number of days in bed fluctuated within a narrow range of 3 to 7 from 24 months to 4 months before death, before increasing substantially to a high of 14 at 1 month before death. In the last 2 years of life, the burden of bed rest did not differ by age but was significantly greater in women than men. Among the conditions leading to death, the burden of bed rest was highest among persons dying from organ failure and cancer, lowest for sudden death, and intermediate for frailty, advanced dementia, and other conditions.

CONCLUSION:

The burden of bed rest at the end of life is greater in women than men, does not differ by age, and is highest among persons dying from organ failure and cancer. The steep increases observed in the last 3 to 5 months of life suggest that taking to bed may be an indicator that death is approaching and should prompt discussions about referral to hospice among older persons with serious illness.

KEYWORDS:

bed rest; end of life; longitudinal study; older persons

PMID:
30829402
DOI:
10.1111/jgs.15822

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