The objectives of this study were to identify and compare changes in the physical, social, and structural functions and in the family relationships of elderly patients upon hospitalization in a geriatric rehabilitation unit, and 1 year after discharge to the community (in the Negev region of Israel). The study was conducted on 88 elderly people with a mean age of 74 years. The Assessment of Dependency for Long-Term Care Benefits test was used twice as the study instrument for measuring the given objectives, once during the first week following admission to the unit and once 1 year later.
At the end of the year there was improvement in most activities of daily living (ADL), a decrease in social roles, an increase in the number of illnesses, greater restrictions in diet, and an increase in use of social services. Changes were observed in the structure of the family social networks, the source of the primary caregiver, and living arrangements. Changes were not observed in the perceived family relationships. In both time periods, married elderly people evaluated family relations as better than did unmarried people. However, unmarried subjects demonstrated greater improvement in physical and social functions. Also, time had a significant effect on social function. Elderly people who were ill for less than 2 months prior to admission demonstrated greater social improvement than those whose illness lasted longer.