Researchers: Middle-age lifestyle factors foretell long-term care need

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Twenty years of data indicate there is a strong correlation between nursing home admission and the presence of certain unhealthy lifestyle-related factors in middle age.

Researchers at the Institute for Health at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, found that, by and large, the same factors that increase the risk of disease and early death also increase the risk of requiring nursing home care later in life. Most of these factors — including smoking, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes — are modifiable, according to researchers.

The risk linked to each lifestyle-related factor was higher for middle-aged people at the start of the study than for those who were elderly. For example, a middle-aged person (someone age 45 to 64 at the start of the study) with diabetes had three times the risk of admission to a nursing home over the next 20 years, the study found.