Current evidence on mental health disorders (MHDs) in the U.S. elderly home care population is highly varied and limited to the local level.
The objective of this study was to examine the prevalence and characteristics of U.S. elders with MHDs on the national level.
This is a primary analysis of secondary use data from a 5% random sample of the 2010 National Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) data spanning a 60-day home care session. MHDs included depression, anxiety, substance abuse, psychotic disorders, aggression, and socially inappropriate behaviors and were identified by diagnosis, symptoms, or mental health service order in the plan of care. Logistic regression was used to identify correlates of MHD.
The final analysis was conducted on records from 28,475 elderly patients with an average age of 79 (range 65–110). Patients were primarily female, White, Medicare beneficiaries, referred from short-stay acute hospitals, and living with others at home. Prevalence of MHDs was approximately 40%; depression (28.0%) and anxiety (18.9%) were common. Factors associated with MHDs were younger age, female, smokers, frail, living alone, referred from psychiatric hospitals, cognitively or sensory impaired, poorer health status, recent history of falls or multiple hospitalizations, and insufficient social support. Only about one third of patients identified with MHD received mental health services during the 60-day home care episode, including psychiatric nursing services and depression interventions.
MHDs are a national health concern in the older U.S. home care population and are common but largely undermanaged. Future research in the home care sector should be aimed at developing targeted MHD screening and interventional protocols and training the current workforce, as well as expanding the future workforce to improve psychiatric care for the homebound elderly.