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Guided care could be breakthrough for senior health

January 25, 2013

Seniors with chronic health conditions often necessitate the use of long-term care, and though these facilities can be effective in many cases, a new form of treatment may help improve the well-being of older adults battling illness. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University say that guided care, a comprehensive approach to healthy aging, has proven more effective in improving the quality of life in seniors compared to those who received traditional care.

The effectiveness of guided care was recently detailed in a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. During a 32-month trial, researchers found that patients who received guided care, which utilized collaborations between physicians and nurses to provide a more targeted approach, fared much better than other subjects. In particular, they had 13 percent fewer hospital admissions as well as 29 percent less home healthcare visits.

"As more practices move to a comprehensive care model, guided care's team care approach can help ensure better quality care and more satisfied patients," said Bruce Leff, one of the study's co-leaders. "In addition, the nearly one-third reduction in home care use highlights how providing comprehensive care for high-risk patients can reduce health service utilization."

While it might be some time until guided care becomes the norm in the senior health community, the study does reflect the advantages of assisted living for older adults with a chronic disease or who have just recently left the hospital. For instance, assisted living can help seniors regain their independence. It is also especially beneficial for adults who are generally healthy and independent but require help with activities of everyday living, such as medication management or meal preparation.