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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 May;60(5):813-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.03905.x.

Transitions in care for older adults with and without dementia.

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Indiana University Center for Aging Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.



To describe transitions in care of persons with dementia with attention to nursing facility transitions.


Prospective cohort.


Public health system.


Four thousand one hundred ninety-seven community-dwelling older adults.


Participants' electronic medical records were merged with Medicare claims, Medicaid claims, the Minimum Data Set (MDS), and the Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) from 2001 to 2008 with a mean follow-up of 5.2 years from the time of enrollment.


Older adults with prevalent (n = 524) or incident (n = 999) dementia had greater Medicare (44.7% vs 44.8% vs 11.4%, P < .001) and Medicaid (21.0% vs 16.8% vs 1.4%, P < .001) nursing facility use, greater hospital (76.2% vs 86.0% vs 51.2%, P < .001) and home health (55.7% vs 65.2% vs 27.3%, P < .001) use, more transitions in care per person-year of follow-up (2.6 vs 2.7 vs 1.4, P < .001), and more mean total transitions (11.2 vs 9.2 vs 3.8, P < .001) than those who were never diagnosed (n = 2,674). For the 1,523 participants with dementia, 74.5% of transitions to nursing facilities were transfers from hospitals. For transitions from nursing facilities, the conditional probability was 41.0% for a return home without home health care, 10.7% for home health care, and 39.8% for a hospital transfer. Of participants with dementia with a rehospitalization within 30 days, 45% had been discharged to nursing facilities from the index hospitalization. At time of death, 46% of participants with dementia were at home, 35% were in the hospital, and 19% were in a nursing facility.


Individuals with dementia live and frequently die in community settings. Nursing facilities are part of a dynamic network of care characterized by frequent transitions.

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