Conference Abstracts

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Does physical decline in older persons mean reduced quality of life?

McDonald, T. A. & van Camp, L., 2007

ACERBAC Conference, La Trobe University, Victoria.

ABSTRACT

Background: Functional decline in physically frail, elderly persons is associated with substantial morbidity and in residential aged care, allied health programs try to stave off the inevitable functional decline associated with late age.

People who generally maintain or improve their exercise level are claimed by some researchers to also improve on variables such as physical, mental and general health measures, nutrition and bodily pain. Claims include that the outcomes of physical activity participation includes quality of life impact in older adults.

Objective: To determine how residents living in both general and dementia-focused units were faring in relation to physical function and quality of life experience.

Methods: Baseline physical data collected from June 2005 to June 2006 at the RSL ANZAC Village at Narrabeen form the basis of this study. Subjects assessed in at least two time periods were included in this baseline analysis. In addition to measures of physical function, measures of residents’ quality of life were recorded simultaneously using the LTC-QoL (long term care quality of life) scale (© T. McDonald). LTC-QoL assessments occurred at three monthly intervals to June 2006. 10 residents from each of the low-care units, who were already being assessed on functionality, were assessed using a quality of life assessment tool developed for the purpose. This assessment focuses on themes of social activity, self-efficacy, supportive relationships, outlook and security

Results: Each of the participating hostels have similar averages of quality of life measures with some variation between highest and lowest scores. Overall improvement on functional measures for each hostel was then graphed with average quality of life measures for comparison. Only residents who had both functional measures and quality of life measures were used. The results show that even with large variations in overall improvement of function, quality of life measures remain constant.

Conclusions: Quality of life and physical function can be measured on a range of older people to determine whether quality of life is being maintained or improved even in the event of declining function. Residents participating in this study were experiencing a high quality of life despite the inevitable deterioration of physical function due to ageing processes.

CITATION McDonald T. Does physical decline in the older person mean reduced quality of life? La Trobe University Conference, “Evidence in practice: Leading the way in aged care”. Bundoora, Victoria, September.

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