An unhealthy lifestyle may increase the likelihood that you will need supported living services when you are older, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Sydney.
Peer review Stadypublished in Journal of Epidemiology and Community HealthIt studied how factors such as smoking, physical activity, sitting, sleeping and diet affect the chances of people needing admission to nursing homes.
The study examined 127,108 men and women ages 60 and older who took part in the Sachs Institute Age 45 and Over Study. As part of the study, participants were asked to report on their lifestyle behaviors and were given a score based on their reporting. The best scores were given to those who were active for more than 300 minutes a week, didn’t smoke, slept seven to nine hours a day, sat less than seven hours a day, and had a diet that included eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. vegetables and reduce the intake of red and processed meat.
The participants were divided into three groups based on their scores: low risk, medium risk, and high risk. One in seven of the participants was found to be in the high-risk group.
During a median follow-up of about 10 years, 18% of participants were admitted to a nursing home, and those in the high-risk group were 43% more likely to be admitted than in the low-risk group. Participants in the medium-risk group were 12% more likely to be accepted than in the low-risk group.
The researchers found that all lifestyle behaviors, with the exception of diet, were independently associated with an increased risk of entering nursing homes, with age and physical disability influencing how much they affected.
The limits of the study
However, the researchers stressed that they were unable to access records showing the exact reason for each participant’s admission to the nursing home nor the presence of other conditions at the time of admission. The study also did not take into account social isolation and loneliness, which have been shown to have an impact on the mental and physical health of older adults.
Lifestyle factors were also reported by the participants and only measured once, which means that there is no way to track possible changes in lifestyle over the observation period. Also, the questionnaire on dietary lifestyle choices was not comprehensive and could explain why the researchers could not find an independent association between diet and an increased risk of admission to nursing homes.
The first study to examine the relationship between lifestyle behaviors and the need for home care
“We know that factors such as poor sleep and inactivity increase people’s risk of diseases such as dementia and diabetes, but this is the first study to look at the independent and combined effect of established and emerging lifestyle behaviors on a person’s risk of acceptance into old age.” Dr Alice Gibson of the Charles Perkins Center and the Menzies Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Sydney said.
“On a public health level, this study suggests that we should consider strategies to encourage older people to improve their lifestyle including focusing on smoking cessation, reduced sitting time, increased physical activity and improved sleep to help reduce the burden on our aged care system. Gibson added.
“You may still be considered ‘low risk’ in general even if you are ‘high risk’ in one behavior,” Gibson noted. “Another positive message from our research is that a person’s BMI is not related to the risk of admission to nursing homes. This supports the notion in the wider literature that some excess weight can be protective at an older age.