Association between subjective memory complaints and nursing home placement: a four-year follow-up

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In order to evaluate whether elderly persons with subjective memory complaints may be regarded as a group of potentially vulnerable patients who need close follow-up, we investigated the risk of nursing home placement during a 4-year follow-up period.


Prospective cohort survey with 4-year follow-up in general practice. Cox proportional hazard models were used to examine the influence of risk factors on nursing home placement.


A total 758 non-nursing home residents aged 65 years and older consulted the General Practitioners in October and November 2002 of whom 50 nursing home placements were observed. Subjective memory complaints were associated with an adjusted Hazard Ratio (HR) of 2.59 for nursing home placement. Other statistical significant covariates were MMSE <24 (HR = 3.95), Age (HR = 3.92 for 75-84 years and HR = 19.90 for 85 + years) and extreme anxiety/depression (HR = 4.74). The effect of subjective memory complaints is seen to moderate when subjects are older.


The data of this study indicated that in an elderly primary care population the presence of subjective memory complaints was a significant independent predictor for nursing home placement together with other known risk factors.

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