6 Common Health Issues of Nursing Home Patients

An estimated 5% of seniors over the age of 65 are living in nursing homes, assisted living, congregate care and board-and-care homes. About half of people over the age of 95 are living in nursing homes.

Nursing homes are usually the care facility of choice for those who can no longer care for themselves. Residents may suffer from a wide range of conditions, some of which develop after moving into the nursing home.

1. Depression and Sleep Issues

According to a study from the American Geriatric Society, seniors experience significant sleep disturbances when in nursing homes. These sleep issues often lead to the need for more extensive care as well as depression.

A survey of Residential Care Facilities conducted by the CDC found that 28% of residents battled depression.

Depression is a very common problem in nursing homes. According to an article published in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, 48% of nursing home residents in Ohio were depressed. Among them, 23% were not treated and 2.5% received some form of behavioral therapy.

2. Incontinence

Incontinence is another common problem, and one that needs more comprehensive care as the problem progresses.

The CDC’s 2010 survey of Residential Care Facilities found that 30% of facilities said 70% of residents had urinary incontinence (UI).

Residents may feel a loss of dignity as UI progresses.

3. Anemia

Anemia is a common condition among seniors, and affects about 10% of residents, according to the CDC’s survey.

Anemia can often be treated or prevented through diet changes, particularly adding more vitamins and iron.

4. Dehydration

Dehydration can be deadly for seniors. According to Strom Lawyers, dehydrated nursing home patients were five times more likely to die than other patients.

An article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine studied 21,000 patients over the age of 65, 1,413 of which died during their hospital stay. Among them, 432 had high sodium levels, typically caused by dehydration.

Research has found that aging along with certain medications and kidney disease can increase thirst and the risk of dehydration.

Some nursing home patients who require assistance for basic tasks, like going to the bathroom, often avoid drinking because they fear they won’t be able to reach the bathroom in time.

Complications of dehydration include:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Hollow cheeks
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Irritability and confusion

5. Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure occurs when the heart is no longer able to circulate blood properly due to weakness. Medication, diet and an active lifestyle can reduce stress while improving this condition.

About 13% of residents battle with heart failure, according to the CDC’s survey.

6. Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

One of the most common conditions affecting nursing home patients is dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. According to the CDC’s survey, 42% of residents had some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

About 40% of residents have some short-term memory problems or are disoriented either all or most of the time.

Cognitive decline is a common issue in seniors, and one that requires carefully-planned care.

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