What Factors Influence the Decisions Older Adults Make About Their Care and Living Plans?
For many older adults, aging-in-place, or remaining in their own home as they age, is a priority. Decision making and planning is critical to successful aging-in-place, yet often older adults defer decisions about their aging-in-place and long-term care needs. As a result, when seniors experience a health crisis, loved ones often must step in as surrogates to make emergent decisions about their medical care and living situation.
Through earlier research funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Dr. Lindquist led a team of seniors, geriatricians, university researchers, social workers, communication experts and home care specialists in developing
“Through education about future health and home-based needs, as well as access to these resources, older adults can make choices and share them with loved ones for their future needs,” said Dr. Lindquist. “Our earlier research found that the Plan Your Lifespan tool is effective in improving decision making about aging-in-place for older adults. However, we still don’t know if having these plans has translated into seniors achieving their aging-in-place goals.”
With the NIA funding, Dr. Lindquist seeks to answer that question, as well as to better understand how decision making for aging-in-place is influenced by older adults’ age-related changes, social factors and environments and how these things may impact timely adoption of these plans and the ability for seniors to successfully age in place.
“Do age-related changes like cognitive decline or increased disability have a greater impact than social influence from a spouse, adult offspring or friends? Does where seniors live, such as a city or rural environment or in a house versus apartment, make a difference in if older adults actively plan for their future needs,” said Dr. Lindquist. “All of these factors likely play a role and by understanding those influences, we can better support older adults in making decisions and implementing plans that will support them in aging-in-place successfully and safely.”
Dr. Lindquist and her team will conduct a 42-month longitudinal study of older adults who are using Plan Your Lifespan. Surveys will be conducted every six months in conjunction with cognitive, social, functional and health literacy data collection. In addition, data will be collected on decision changes, resource use, timing of plan implementation and goal concordance.
This project is funded by NIA grant R01AG058777 entitled “Decision Making and Implementation of Aging-in-Place/Long Term Care Plans Among Older Adults.”
To start making your own aging-in-place plan and to find resources for long term care, visit https://www.planyourlifespan.org/. For more information about Northwestern Medicine, visit http://news.nm.org/about-northwestern-medicine.html.