Based on a new research, people who live over 100 years of age are more likely to pass away in a hospital in Britain than from other parts of Europe.
England needs to change the way it takes care of its senior citizens by expanding home care capacities to meet the rising numbers of people who live over 100 years of age or more. Centenarians in the UK have doubled in the last 10 years and the number is even expected to reach 500,000 in 2066.
King's College London analyzed 36,000 death certificates and found that centenarians were more at risk to die from infections including pneumonia compared to younger groups of senior people. Researchers found that 28 percent of people aged 100 to 115 years died of old age while a fifth died due to pneumonia. Less than five percent died of cancer while less than nine percent died of heart disease.
Palliative care scientists call for more home care beds and health services that are better planned so less centenarians would have to go into the hospital in the last few weeks of their life. Patients who have to be admitted to the hospital at this time increase the NHS expenses significantly.
"We need to plan for healthcare services that meet the hidden needs of this group, who may decline rapidly if they succumb to an infection or pneumonia," clinical palliative care lecturer Dr. Catherine Evans of the Cicely Saunders Institute at King's College London said. "We need to boost high quality care home capacity and responsive primary and community health services to enable people to remain in a comfortable, familiar environment in their last months of life."
People who live over 100 years old survive chronic diseases but die because of pneumonia or frailty, not even of heart disease or cancer which are the biggest causes of death for the younger elderly. Over a decade, about 60 percent of people who lived over 100 years of age died in a nursing or residential home, one fourth died in the hospital, one tenth died at their homes and less than one percent passed away in a hospice.
Researchers noted that there are far less centenarians in the UK who died in nursing homes compared to other European countries including Finland and the Netherlands. Only 16 percent of very old people in the Netherlands die in the hospital while only 14 percent do in Finland. Ninety percent of people over 90 years of age die in a nursing home in the Netherlands while 76 percent do in Finland.