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Study Begins: Reducing Hospitalization in Dementia Sufferers

“DemWG” – a research project of the University of Bremen, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, and the AOK Bremen – is under way. It focuses on reducing hospitalization of people with dementia in outpatient assisted-living communities. A total of 1,260 residents from various cities are participating.

The Federal Joint Committee, the supreme decision-making body of the self-government of doctors, dentists, psychotherapists, hospitals, and health insurance companies in Germany, is supporting the practice-oriented research project with 1.3 million euros. The money comes from the innovation fund for health service research.

Focus on Nursing Care

Karin Wolf-Ostermann, professor of nursing science for health service research at the Institut für Public Health und Pflegeforschung (IPP), is responsible for the project at the University of Bremen. “The number of people with dementia in Germany is currently estimated at 1.6 million, of which about two-thirds are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease,” she says. There is no known cure for dementia, so nursing care takes center stage. The researchers participating in this study estimate that there are currently around 2,500 assisted-living communities for people with dementia in Germany. Those affected are mostly female and are elderly.

Acute States of Confusion

Around one-third of people with dementia are treated in hospital at least once a year. Hospitalization can have a negative impact on those with dementia. This includes cognitive deterioration, increased occurrences of challenging behavior, acute states of confusion, and the risk of infection. The preservation and promotion of quality of life of dementia sufferers and their relatives is thus brought into focus in this study.

Fall Prevention Exercises

Central to the DemWG project is a complex intervention comprising three components. First, people who actively work in an outpatient assisted-living community should have the opportunity for training – they should be able to better recognize the risks of hospitalization. Second, general practitioners and specialists should be involved at an early stage. Third, dementia sufferers in assisted-living communities should have access to a training program for strengthening their motor and cognitive functions. Particularly close attention is paid to fall prevention exercises.
“Our study examines the question of what effects the grouping of these three measures has on the frequency of hospitalization and the costs thereof,” says Professor Karin Wolf-Ostermann.
   
Contact:

Professor Karin Wolf-Ostermann
Institut für Public Health und Pflegeforschung (IPP)
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 218-68960
E-mail: wolf-ostermann@uni-bremen.de

 

hands of elderly men and women
Group of seniors builds a tower of building blocks to strengthening their motor and cognitive functions