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Nursing home residents with advanced dementia are less likely to die after hip fracture if they choose surgery.

BOSTON — Researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife’s Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research and Brown University have conducted the first study to examine outcomes in nursing home residents with advanced dementia and hip fracture. They discovered that advanced dementia residents have a lower mortality rate after 6 months, if they undergo surgical repair. Those advanced dementia patients managed with surgery also reported less pain and fewer pressure ulcers than those whose proxies chose a palliative care approach in lieu of surgery.

The study was published today in the JAMA Internal Medicine, and examined 3,083 nursing home residents with advanced dementia and hip fracture. Researchers caution that although residents who underwent surgery had a modest improvement in outcomes, pain, pressure ulcers, and antipsychotic use were common among advanced dementia residents with hip fracture that survived six months, regardless of surgical management. Further, few survivors in either cohort were ever able to walk again following surgery or palliative care measures. Researchers say their finding suggest the need for broad improvements in the quality of care provided to nursing home residents.

Sarah Berry, M.D., M.P.H, lead author on the study and Associate Director, Musculoskeletal Research Center and Associate Scientist at Hebrew SeniorLife’s Marcus Institute said, “In nursing home residents with advanced dementia and hip fracture, surgical repair was associated with a survival benefit as compared with a purely palliative approach. The survival benefit of surgery should be considered together with the patient’s goals for care when determining the appropriate management plan. Clearly there is an opportunity to improve quality of care regardless of how the fracture is managed.”

Researchers also advise that they do not know the quality of palliative care provided to these nursing home residents, which could potentially ameliorate these issues without surgery.

The decision to surgically repair a hip fracture or not in nursing home patients with dementia remains a challenge, although this study’s findings help shed light on the options for residents and family members as they work toward their goals for care.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers 1R01AG045441, and K24AG033640. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health."

About the Marcus Institute

Scientists at the Marcus Institute seek to transform the human experience of aging by conducting research that will ensure a life of health, dignity and productivity into advanced age. The Institute carries out rigorous studies that discover the mechanisms of age-related disease and disability; lead to the prevention, treatment and cure of disease; advance the standard of care for older people; and inform public decision-making. The Musculoskeletal Center within Marcus Institute studies conditions affecting bone, muscle, and joint health with aging.

About Hebrew SeniorLife

Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a national senior services leader uniquely dedicated to rethinking, researching and redefining the possibilities of aging. Based in Boston, the non-profit, non-sectarian organization has provided communities and health care for seniors, research into aging, and education for geriatric care providers since 1903. For more information about Hebrew SeniorLife, visit, follow us on Twitter @H_SeniorLife, like us on Facebook or read our blog.