Seasonal flu outbreaks cause a substantial decline in functioning among nursing home residents, particularly in their ability to carry out activities of daily living (ADL), according to a new study.
Researchers identified 2,351 freestanding nursing homes in 122 cities where weekly influenza mortality data is tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They studied six influenza seasons from October 1999 to September 2005.
They measured ADL-decline indicators, such as weight loss, new or worsening pressure ulcers, and infections, from a national nursing home patient database. Physical function outcome measures, including ADL decline, mirrored the seasonal trends of influenza severity and mortality.
There was a strong association between influenza mortality and high ADL decline, weight loss, and infections. No associations were found for restraint use, antipsychotic medications, or persistent pain — control measures of nursing home quality that were not expected to vary with seasonal influenza.
To learn more, see Gozalo et al. (2012). Effect of influenza on functional decline. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 60(7), 1260-1267.