A federally-funded project that researchers say has potential to promote aging in place began by asking low-income seniors with disabilities how their lives at home could be better, according to a study released Wednesday.
At the end of the program, 75% of participants were able to perform more daily activities than they could before and symptoms of depression also improved, researchers said in the journal Health Affairs.
Called Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders, or CAPABLE for short, the program was funded by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation.
The seniors who took part were each paired with a team for five months that included an occupational therapist, who made six visits; a registered nurse, who made four; and a handyman, who worked a full-day at the participant’s home installing assistive devices and doing repairs, according to the study.
The nurses and therapists helped participants identify three achievable goals for each member of the team and identify what barriers had to be overcome. For example, the therapist might survey a house for safety issues such as unsafe flooring, poorly lit entrances and railings in disrepair.
The therapist then worked with the elderly person to identify assistive devices, repairs or modifications that could help achieve the participant’s goals. Next, the therapist created a work order for the handyman that prioritized those goals within a $1,300 budget for each dwelling.
Spending on assistive devices and home repairs ranged from $72 to $1,398 for each participant, the researchers said.
They studied 234 adults older than 65 who participated in CAPABLE, all eligible for both Medicare, the government health insurance plan for seniors, and Medicaid, the government health insurance plan for low-income people.
All participants had trouble with routine tasks in a group of eight known as activities of daily living. They include bathing, dressing, using the toilet and walking across a small room. On average, participants had trouble with 3.9 tasks at the start, but improved to just two by the end of the program.
Researchers said they could not conclude that the participants’ improvements were due to the CAPABLE program because the project was funded without a control group to make scientific comparisons.
(Kaiser Health News, Rachel Bluth, September 7, 2016)