Conference Abstracts

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What does it take to maintain quality of life for older people despite decline in physical capacity?

McDonald, T. A., 2008

19th International Nursing Research Conference, Singapore


Background: Functional decline in physically frail, elderly persons is associated with the substantial morbidity assumed to be a major determinant of quality of life.

Objective: This longitudinal study of people in residential care, investigates how a combination of care, nursing and therapy programs can stave off the depressing effects of degeneration associated with late age.

Methods: Baseline physical data collected from June 2005 to September 2007 at the RSL ANZAC Village at Narrabeen form the basis of this study. Four measurable physical capacity variables are included: Sit to stand; Walk; Get up and go; Side steps, and are repeated every 3 months for the same residents. Average age = 87 years. In addition to measures of physical function, measures of residents’ quality of life were recorded simultaneously. 10 residents from each of the low-care units, who were already being assessed on functionality, are assessed using a quality of life assessment tool developed for the purpose. Assessment themes include social activity, self-efficacy, supportive relationships, outlook and security.

Results: Each of the participating hostels has similar averages of quality of life measures with some variation between highest and lowest scores. Overall improvement on functional measures for each hostel is graphed with average quality of life measures for comparison. Only residents who have both functional measures and quality of life measures are 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. A cohesive approach with care, nursing, medicine and allied health therapies provides a basis upon which quality of life can be maintained despite changes in health status.

CITATION McDonald, T. A. (2008) What does it take to maintain quality of life for older people despite decline in physical capacity? 19th International Nursing Research Congress Focusing on Evidence-based Practice: Research Sessions. Suntec Singapore International Exhibition and Convention Centre, July.


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