Nursing center residents with cognitive impairment may be at disadvantage for functional gains

According to researchers from Brown University's Center for Gerontology & Healthcare Research, differences in functional improvement for post-acute care residents with and without cognitive impairment may have important implications for clinicians.

The researchers, led by PhD candidate Lacey Loomer (pictured) used data for a large group of Medicare beneficiaries admitted to skilled nursing centers for post-acute care in 2017, shortly after the Minimum Data Set was amended (in 2016) to include new self-care and mobility items. They found that residents with any degree of cognitive impairment exhibited less improvement than residents who were cognitively intact. The greatest difference was between residents with severe cognitive impairment and those who were cognitively intact.

According to the research team, it is not surprising that residents with cognitive impairment showed less improvement in self‐care and mobility—but the large magnitude of differences make the findings important. Residents with cognitive impairment may need additional support and more intensive rehabilitation to make the same functional gains as residents who are cognitively intact.