Successful Discharge to Community from Home Health Less Likely for People in Late Stages of Dementia

Sara Knox, Brian Downer, Allen Haas, Kenneth Ottenbacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Purpose: Several studies have established the efficacy of home health in meeting the health care needs of people with Alzheimer disease and related dementias (ADRD) and helping them to remain at home. However, transitioning to the community after discharge from home health presents challenges to patient safety and quality of life. The severity of an individual's functional impairments, cognitive limitations, and behavioral and psychological symptoms may compound these challenges. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between dementia severity and successful discharge to community (DTC) from home health. Methods: This was a retrospective study of 142 376 Medicare beneficiaries with ADRD. Successful DTC was defined as having no unplanned hospitalization or death within 30 days of DTC from home health. Successful DTC rates were calculated, and multilevel logistic regression was used to estimate the relative risk (RR) of successful DTC, by dementia severity category, adjusted for patient and clinical characteristics. Six dementia severity categories were identified using a crosswalk between items on the Outcome and Assessment Information Set and the Functional Assessment Staging Tool. Results and Discussion: Successful DTC occurred in 71.2% of beneficiaries. Beneficiaries in the 2 most severe dementia categories had significantly lower risk of successful DTC (category 6: RR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.889-0.910; category 7: RR = 0.737, 95% CI = 0.704-0.770) than those in the least severe dementia category. The RR of successful DTC for people with ADRD decreased as the level of independence with oral medication management decreased and when there was an overall greater need for caregiver assistance. Conclusions: Patient status at the time of admission to home health is associated with outcomes after discharge from home health. Early identification of people in advanced stages of ADRD provides an opportunity to implement strategies to facilitate successful DTC while people are still receiving home care services. The severity of ADRD and availability of caregiver assistance should be key considerations in planning for successful DTC for people with ADRD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-84
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geriatric Physical Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2024


  • dementia severity
  • home health
  • successful discharge to community

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Successful Discharge to Community from Home Health Less Likely for People in Late Stages of Dementia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this