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Association of loneliness and healthcare utilization among older adults in Singapore
To assess the association between loneliness and physician visits among community-dwelling older adults in Singapore.
We obtained data from two consecutive waves (2009 and 2011) of a nationally representative longitudinal survey of community-dwelling Singaporeans aged 60 years and older. Out of 3103 responses, we excluded proxy interviews (n = 365; 11.8 %), resulting in a final analysis cohort of 2738 respondents. Using the frequency of physician visits in the past 30 days as the dependent variable, we carried out negative binomial hurdle regression controlling for predisposing characteristics, enabling factors, needs, social capital and change in loneliness status between the two waves of the survey.
Approximately 23% of respondents suffered from chronic loneliness; a further 19% developed loneliness, whereas 33% recovered from loneliness by wave 2. Chronic (OR 0.76 ± 0.11) and recently-developed loneliness (OR 0.70 ± 0.10) were significantly associated with lower odds of physician visits, compared with being never lonely. Meanwhile, those who recovered from loneliness had the same odds of physician visits, but were associated with lower number of visits (−0.71 ± 0.27) if they did utilize their physicians.
The present study found a significant association between loneliness and lower odds of physician visits regardless of whether the loneliness was recently developed or chronic. In addition, respondents who had loneliness in the past also had a significantly lower number of visits to physicians compared with those who were never lonely. Further studies on the underlying behavior and the health consequences are warranted.Visit
Classification trees for identifying non-use of community-based long-term care services among older adults
Home- and center-based long-term care (LTC) services allow older adults to remain in the community while simultaneously helping caregivers cope with the stresses associated with providing care. Despite these benefits, the uptake of community-based LTC services among older adults remains low. We analyzed data from a longitudinal study in Singapore to identify the characteristics of individuals with referrals to home-based LTC services or day rehabilitation services at the time of hospital discharge. Classification and regression tree analysis was employed to identify combinations of clinical and sociodemographic characteristics of patients and their caregivers for individuals who did not take up their referred services. Patients’ level of limitation in activities of daily living (ADL) and caregivers’ ethnicity and educational level were the most distinguishing characteristics for identifying older adults who failed to take up their referred home-based services. For day rehabilitation services, patients’ level of ADL limitation, home size, age, and possession of a national medical savings account, as well as caregivers’ education level, and gender were significant factors influencing service uptake. Identifying subgroups of patients with high rates of non-use can help clinicians target individuals who are need of community-based LTC services but unlikely to engage in formal treatment.Visit
Examination of the Psychometric Properties of the Geriatric Fear of Falling Measure Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults in the United States
This current study investigated the construct validity and reliability of the Geriatric Fear of Falling Measure (GFFM) among community-dwelling older adults in the United States. Eighty-eight participants were assessed on the GFFM together with demographics, falls, and fear of falling and falls-efficacy measures at baseline and an 8-week follow-up visit. Cronbach’s alpha, regression analyses, and correlation analyses were used to examine the psychometric properties of the GFFM. The results showed that the GFFM demonstrated good construct validity and reliability among community-dwelling older adults in the United States. Our findings provide evidence for the validity and reliability of the GFFM. Further study with a larger and diverse sample is needed to determine whether the GFFM has potential as a quick screening tool of fear of falling in clinical settings.Visit
Bilingual Text With or Without Pictograms Improves Elderly Singaporeans’ Understanding of Prescription Medication Labels
In Singapore, primarily English-language prescription medication labels challenge elderly Singaporeans, many of whom are unable to read English. We investigated whether bilingual text and pictograms can help them understand prescription medication labels.
We randomized 1,414 elderly respondents of a national survey into four prescription medication labels: English-text; English-text-and-pictograms; Bilingual-text; and Bilingual-text-and-pictograms, which were similar except for the addition of another language and/or pictograms (International Pharmaceutical Federation, FIP). Respondents answered 16 label-related questions; an expert panel rated answers for correctness. Outcomes were (1) complete understanding (16 correct); (2) any understanding (≥1 correct); and (3) number of incorrect answers among those with any understanding. We evaluated associations of each prescription medication label (vs. English-text) with outcomes (1), (2), and (3) using logistic and negative binomial regression, respectively.
The elderly respondents were similar across the four prescription medication labels (English-text, English-text-and-pictograms, Bilingual-text, Bilingual-text-and-pictograms), for which the proportions with outcomes (1) and (2) were (17.9%, 25.6%, 36.9%, 40.1%) and (50.4%, 62.6%, 75.9%, 76.5%), respectively. We observed statistically significant higher odds of outcomes (1) and (2) among those assigned the three labels (vs. English-text): English-text-and-pictograms, 1.96 and 2.51; Bilingual-text, 3.54 and 6.73; and Bilingual-text-and-pictograms, 4.51 and 7.93. Those assigned the three labels also had 0.94, 1.98, and 2.12 fewer outcome (3) on average (vs. English-text).
Adding bilingual text with or without pictograms on prescription medication labels considerably improved elderly Singaporeans’ understanding of the labels, strongly suggesting its application in practice. Other issues in prescription medication labels design and content, including adapting FIP pictograms for elderly Singaporeans, warrant further investigation.Visit
Evaluating a novel Integrated Community of Care (ICoC) for patients from an urbanised low-income community in Singapore using the participatory action research (PAR) methodology: a study protocol
Poorer health outcomes and disproportionate healthcare use in socioeconomically disadvantaged patients is well established. However, there is sparse literature on effective integrated care interventions that specifically target these high-risk individuals. The Integrated Community of Care (ICoC) is a novel care model that integrates hospital-based transitional care with health and social care in the community for high-risk individuals living in socially deprived communities. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the ICoC in reducing acute hospital use and investigate the implementation process and its effects on clinical outcomes using a mixed-methods participatory action research (PAR) approach.
This is a single-centre prospective, controlled, observational study performed in the SingHealth Regional Health System. A total of 250 eligible patients from an urbanised low-income community in Singapore will be enrolled during their index hospitalisation. Our PAR model combines two research components: quantitative and qualitative, at different phases of the intervention. Outcomes of acute hospital use and health-related quality of life are compared with controls, at 30 days and 1 year. The qualitative study aims at developing a more context-specific social ecological model of health behaviour. This model will identify how influences within one’s social environment: individual, interpersonal, organisational, community and policy factors affect people’s experiences and behaviours during care transitions from hospital to home. Knowledge on the operational aspects of ICoC will enrich our evidence-based strategies to understand the impact of the ICoC. The blending of qualitative and quantitative mixed methods recognises the dynamic implementation processes as well as the complex and evolving needs of community stakeholders in shaping outcomes.
Effect of Caregiving Relationship and Formal Long-Term Care Service Use on Caregiver Well-being.
Despite efforts to revise the traditional long-term care (LTC) model, informal caregivers continue to provide a substantial amount of support to older adults as front-line care providers. The present study aimed to understand the effect of informal caregiving on caregivers’ well-being in Singapore with respect to different types of patient-caregiver relationships. Second, this study examined the association between formal LTC service use and caregivers’ well-being.
Two waves of data for 781 dyads of patients with LTC needs and their caregivers from a longitudinal study were analyzed. Multilevel regression models were used to examine the association between caregivers’ well-being (self-rated general health, stress level and quality of life) and LTC service use among different patient-caregiver relationships.
Spousal caregivers reported significantly lower quality of life compared with adult children caregivers. Non-immediate family caregivers showed better overall well-being compared with spouse and adult children caregivers. Caregivers of patients referred to nursing homes reported higher levels of stress and poorer self-rated general health compared with caregivers of patients referred to community-based services. Spouse and non-immediate family caregivers of patients who utilized nursing home or home-based services presented poorer self-rated general health than caregivers of the patients who did not use any formal services.
Developing a better understanding of the associations between well-being and formal LTC service use for different types of patient-caregiver relationships is critical for policy makers and healthcare providers who aim to create holistic systems of care.Visit
Importance of social relationships in the association between sleep duration and cognitive function: Data from community-dwelling older Singaporeans
Aging is accompanied by cognitive decline that is escalated in older adults reporting extreme sleep duration. Social relationships can influence health outcomes and thus may qualify the association between sleep duration and cognitive function. The present study examines the moderating effects of marital status, household size, and social network with friends and relatives on the sleep–cognition association among older adults.
Data (N = 4,169) came from the Social Isolation, Health, and Lifestyles Survey, a nationally representative survey of community-dwelling older Singaporeans (≥ 60 years). Sleep duration and social relationships were self-reported. Cognitive function was assessed with the Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire.
Regression analysis revealed that the inverted U-shaped association between sleep duration and cognitive function was less profound among older adults who were married (vs. unmarried) and those who had stronger (vs. weaker) social networks. In contrast, it was more prominent among individuals who had more (vs. fewer) household members.
Being married and having stronger social networks may buffer against the negative cognitive impact of extreme sleep duration. But larger household size might imply more stress for older persons, and therefore strengthen the sleep duration–cognitive function association. We discuss the potential biological underpinnings and the policy implications of the findings. Although our findings are based on a large sample, replication studies using objective measures of sleep duration and other cognitive measures are needed.Visit
Factors of nocturnal sleep and daytime nap durations in community-dwelling elderly: A longitudinal population-based study
Durations of nocturnal sleep and daytime nap influence the well-being of older adults. It is thus essential to understand their determinants. However, much previous research did not assess sleep duration and nap duration individually, and longitudinal data is lacking. This study aimed at examining the impact of demographic, psychosocial, and health factors, including ethnicity, social networks outside the household, smoking and physical exercise on sleep duration and nap duration among community-dwelling elderly.
Our study involved over 2,600 older adults (≥60 years) from a longitudinal, nationally representative survey – the Panel on Health and Ageing of Singaporean Elderly. Sleep and nap durations at Time 2 (two years later) were regressed on predictors measured at Time 1.
Time 2 short nocturnal sleep duration was predicted by Malay ethnicity (relative to Chinese and Indian), older age, lower education level, more depressive symptoms, and obesity, whereas future long nocturnal sleep duration was predicted by weaker social networks, older age, and more chronic diseases. Furthermore, smoking, obesity, Malay or Indian (relative to Chinese), older age, male gender, and cognitive impairment predicted longer daytime nap duration in the future.
Older adults’ nocturnal sleep and daytime nap durations may be affected by different demographic, psychosocial, and health factors. Thus, it is important to differentiate these two attributes in this age group.Visit
Caregiving-related needs of family caregivers of older Singaporeans
To describe the extent and correlates of caregiving-related needs among family caregivers of Singaporeans aged 75+ with ≥1 activity of daily living limitations (care-recipients).
National survey data of 1181 care-recipient/caregiver dyads were used. Caregiver’s report (yes/no) of 16 needs was assessed. Care-recipient and caregiver correlates of each need were determined through logistic regression analysis. Caregiving-related needs were expressed by 42.3% caregivers. The most commonly reported need was keeping care-recipient safe at home (24.5%). Needs concerned with caring for care-recipients were more frequent than those concerned with the caregiver’s own needs. The most frequent correlate was care-recipient’s extent of mood impairment (associated with 13 needs).
Caregivers should not neglect themselves when engaging in care provision. Families and service providers should explore whether reported lack of needs reflects limited awareness and/or under-reporting.Visit
Living Arrangements of Community-dwelling Older Singaporeans: Predictors and Consequences
In this paper, we examine predictors and consequences of living arrangements among community-dwelling older Singaporeans. We take a holistic approach and consider a range of social and economic as well as emotional and physical wellbeing indicators. Two waves (2009, 2011) of the Panel on Health and Ageing of Singaporean Elderly (PHASE) are analysed to (a) provide an overview of living arrangements in 2009 and assess the extent to which living arrangements change by 2011; (b) examine the predictors of living arrangements in 2009; and (c) examine the consequences of living arrangements over a two-year period. The majority (88%) of older Singaporeans co-reside with either their spouse and/or children. A small yet growing proportion live with others (5%) or live alone (6%).
Very little change in living arrangements is observed over the two years. Our results show that women, the oldest-old and older adults with fewer children are more likely to live alone. Older adults who live alone are not particularly disadvantaged compared to those who live with their spouse and children or spouse only in their social and economic wellbeing. It is, in fact, older adults who live with their children that are disadvantaged in many aspects of social, economic and mental wellbeing. Measures to engage older adults living with their families (along with those living alone and with others) in broader social activities are imperative.Visit