Discharge to a skilled nursing facility lowers readmission rate for those with dementia, study finds

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People with dementia who are discharged from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility are less likely to be readmitted than those discharged to other settings, according to recently published research.

A team from Indiana University and the Regenstrief Institute looked at rehospitalization patterns among about 975 seniors over the course of a year. Those with cognitive impairment were less likely to be readmitted within 30 days if they went to a SNF than if they went to their own home or the home of a family member, the researchers found.

The findings could be explained by a variety of factors, such as better medication adherence and earlier recognition of physical problems in the nursing home, the investigators surmised.

They also found that people with dementia who go from a hospital to a SNF have a longer median time to readmission (142 days) than people with no dementia who are discharged to a SNF (98 days).

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate whether discharge destination of older adults makes a difference in rehospitalization rate,” stated author Arif Nazir, M.D. “Our findings — that it does have an effect — is yet another factor that families and hospital administrators as well as state and national policy makers will want to take into account for many reasons.”

Personalized transitional care plans should take into account cognitive function as well as physical illnesses, the researchers noted.

Findings appear in the November issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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