The number of elderly subjects requiring care is rapidly increasing, however, their health status has not been well studied. The purposes of this study were to describe the health characteristics of the elderly at home who were using long-term care insurance, and to clarify factors that influence dependence for activities of daily living (ADL). The subjects were 194 elderly people living at home, who were approved for care. The items surveyed were the demographic characteristics, care level (or level of dependence for ADL), Barthel index, grip strength, thigh muscle volume, cognitive impairment using the mini-mental state examination (MMSE), depressed mood using the geriatric depression scale (GDS-15), and serum albumin and hemoglobin levels. The grip strength (p = 0.0001), thigh muscle volume (p = 0.0030), MMSE score (p = < 0.0001) and serum albumin level (p = < 0.0001) decreased, while the GDS-15 score (p = 0.0142) increased with deteriorating care levels. The proportion of subjects not requiring assistance for the items “bathing” and “stair-climbing” in the Barthel index was markedly low in the subjects belonging to the relatively low (mild) care levels. The logistic regression analysis showed that factors associated with dependence for “bathing” and “stair-climbing” were the use of day-services, male sex, decline of grip strength, and a high GDS-15 score. In conclusion, it is important to strengthen the muscles of the upper half of the body, and to correct depressed moods for maintaining levels of ADL in the elderly requiring care at home.
2005 Tohoku University Medical Press