Rehabilitation interventions effective for older people in long term care

Clinical question: 
How effective are physical rehabilitation interventions directed at improving physical function among older people (age range 69 to 89 years) in long term care?
Bottom line: 
The included studies provide evidence physical rehabilitation interventions for elderly people residing in long term care can be both safe and successful, improving both physical and mental state. Most interventions addressed disability in routine activities of daily life, eg, walking, eating and dressing. The trial outcomes addressed by this review were: disability in daily life; strength; flexibility; balance; general physical condition; mood; cognitive status; participant withdrawal rate; session attendance; death; illness; and unwanted effects associated with the intervention, such as injuries. Most interventions lasted less than 20 weeks, and comprised approximately three 30 to 45-minute group sessions per week. While variations between the trials means specific recommendations cannot be made, the trial results were overwhelmingly successful.
Due to the wide variety of outcome measures used, the studies could not be summarised statistically. There is insufficient evidence to make recommendations about the best intervention, improvement sustainability and cost-effectiveness.
The number of over 65-year-olds constituted 6.6% of the world's population in 1997 and is predicted to increase to 10% by 2025. It is expected this will lead to a rise in demand for long term residential care. There is, therefore, a demand for ways of preventing any deterioration in health, and for increasing independence in activities of daily living, eg, walking and dressing, among residents.
Review CD#: 
April, 2009
Authored by: 
Brian R McAvoy