What is the evidence on how to improve older adults’ functional abilities at home?

Lifestyle

A new analysis called an evidence and gap map has mapped what we know about improving the functional ability of older adults living at home or in nursing homes, retirement homes, or other long-term care facilities.

A total of 548 studies were included in the map, which is published in Campbell Systematic Reviews. The most common interventions studied were home-based rehabilitation for older adults and home-based health services for disease prevention, mostly delivered by visiting healthcare professionals.

Investigators found substantial evidence for interventions to promote functional ability—especially related to basic needs and mobility—in older adults at home, but few studies have looked at impacts on social participation, financial security, ability to maintain relationships, and communication. There were very few studies done in low and middle income countries.

“This Campbell Collaboration evidence and gap map on enabling functional ability at home for older adults helps people find relevant studies and systematic reviews to support evidence-informed decisions for ageing safely and well in place,” said corresponding author Vivian Welch, Ph.D., MSc, a scientist at Bruyère Research Institute, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, and Editor-in-Chief of the Campbell Collaboration. “This evidence map is one of the cornerstones of the baseline report for the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing, 2021-2030.”