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Keywords:

  • exercise;
  • functional ability;
  • older adults;
  • telephone follow-up

Abstract

Objective  During hospitalization older people often experience functional decline which impacts on their future independence. The objective of this study was to evaluate a multifaceted transitional care intervention including home-based exercise strategies for at-risk older people on functional status, independence in activities of daily living (ADLs) and walking ability.

Methods  A randomized controlled trial was undertaken in a metropolitan hospital in Australia with 128 patients (64 intervention, 64 control) aged over 65 years with an acute medical admission and at least one risk factor for hospital readmission. The intervention group received an individually tailored programme for exercise and follow-up care which was commenced in hospital and included regular visits in hospital by a physiotherapist and a registered nurse, a home visit following discharge and regular telephone follow-up for 24 weeks following discharge. The programme was designed to improve health-promoting behaviours, strength, stability, endurance and mobility. Data were collected at baseline, then 4, 12 and 24 weeks following discharge using the Index of ADL, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) and the Walking Impairment Questionnaire (WIQ; modified).

Results  Significant improvements were found in the intervention group in IADL scores (P < 0.001), ADL scores (P < 0.001) and WIQ scale scores (P < 0.001) in comparison to the control group. The greatest improvements were found in the first 4 weeks following discharge.

Conclusions  Early introduction of a transitional model of care incorporating a tailored exercise programme and regular telephone follow-up for hospitalized at-risk older adults can improve independence and functional ability.