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Keywords:

  • disease;
  • incontinence;
  • fall

OBJECTIVES: To analyze the co-occurrence, in adults aged 65 and older, of five conditions that are highly prevalent, lead to substantial morbidity, and have evidence-based guidelines for management and well-developed measures of medical care quality.

DESIGN: Secondary data analysis of the 2004 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS).

SETTING: Nationally representative health interview survey.

PARTICIPANTS: Respondents in the 2004 wave of the HRS aged 65 and older.

MEASUREMENTS: Self-reported presence of five index conditions (three chronic diseases (coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and diabetes mellitus) and two geriatric syndromes (urinary incontinence and injurious falls)) and demographic information (age, sex, race, living situation, net worth, and education).

RESULTS: Eleven thousand one hundred thirteen adults, representing 37.1 million Americans aged 65 and older, were interviewed. Forty-five percent were aged 76 and older, 58% were female, 8% were African American, and 4% resided in a nursing home. Respondents with more conditions were older and more likely to be female, single, and residing in a nursing home (all P<.001). Fifty-six percent had at least one of the five index conditions, and 23% had two or more. Of respondents with one condition, 20% to 55% (depending on the index condition) had two or more additional conditions.

CONCLUSION: Five common conditions (3 chronic diseases, 2 geriatric syndromes) often co-occur in older adults, suggesting that coordinated management of comorbid conditions, both diseases and geriatric syndromes, is important. Care guidelines and quality indicators, rather than considering one condition at a time, should be developed to address comprehensive and coordinated management of co-occurring diseases and geriatric syndromes.