Image of Wanzhu Tu, Ph.D., of the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University School of Medicine

Q: You examined hospital transfer trends among older and “younger” long-stay nursing home residents. Are there really that many young nursing home patients?

A: It is estimated that about one in six long-stay nursing home residents in the United States is younger than age 65.

Q: Residents younger than age 60 were transferred at twice the rate of those 80 and older. What factors might explain that? 

A: The numbers of medical diagnoses,  including for anemia, diabetes and sepsis,  in the hospital transfer group were generally greater than that of the non-hospital transfer group, especially in the younger residents. The most logical explanation is that the greater overall disease burden and acute–care needs in the younger residents have contributed to their increased hospital transfers, whereas changing care goals and priorities have led to reduced hospital transfers in the older residents.

Q: How can providers and policymakers use this information? 

A: Knowing and understanding age-specific rates of hospital transfers, as we now do, could support benchmarks for care provision and help in the design of targeted strategies to reduce hospital transfers that better recognize and address the diverse needs of nursing home residents of different ages, especially younger residents.