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Low bone mineral density measurements in care home residents - a treatable cause of fractures

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Terry AsprayORCiD, David Rawlings, Emeritus Professor Roger Francis


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Purpose: to assess predictors of fracture risk and treatment for osteoporosis among elderly care home residents. Subjects and methods: Design: cross-sectional survey; Setting: residents of care homes in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Participants: representative sample from residential care (87), nursing homes (105) and specialist homes for elderly people with dementia [elderly mentally infirm (EMI)]: residential (124) and nursing (76); Main outcome measures: dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry bone mineral density (BMD) at calcaneum; functional assessments, including cognition, using Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Clifton Assessment Procedure for the Elderly-Behaviour Rating Score (CAPE-BRS) and Functional Assessment Staging Test (FAST) scores; current drug prescription. Results: MMSE, CAPE, FAST (all ANOVA P < 0.001) and weight (ANOVA P < 0.02) were lower in EMI homes. Drugs with sedative effects (chi-square, P < 0.0001) were more likely and calcium and vitamin D (CaD) supplementation (chi-square, P < 0.02) less likely in EMI care. For residential care, the odds ratio (OR) for sedative drugs in EMI was 2.13 (95% CI 1.11-4.06) with no significant difference between nursing homes. For CaD supplementation, the OR for EMI nursing homes was 0.19 (95% CI 0.05-0.72) and for EMI residential homes 0.38 (NS to 95% CI 0.12-1.27). BMD was low: mean T-score was -2.29 (95% CI -2-48 to -2.09) and Z-score -0.96 (95% CI -1.16 to -0.76) with a prevalence of osteoporosis (T-score < -1.6) of 69.2%. MMSE and FAST scores did not predict BMD. In EMI residential care, a decrease of CAPE score by 5 points was associated with a decrease in T-score by 0.6 (95% CI 0.15-1.1). Conclusions: of the tools used to assess function, only CAPE predicted low BMD in EMI residential care. Rates of CaD supplementation are particularly low in EMI care, where risk factors for fracture were the greatest. We conclude that fracture risk is neglected in these homes, and targeted education and treatment are warranted.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Aspray TJ, Stevenson P, Abdy SE, Rawlings DJ, Holland T, Francis RM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Age and Ageing

Year: 2006

Volume: 35

Issue: 1

Pages: 37-41

ISSN (print): 0002-0729

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2834

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afj018


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