Anemia and its impact on function in nursing home residents: What do we know?

 Purpose: To provide the advanced practice nurse (APN) information on the prevalence and causes of anemia in elderly nursing home (NH) residents, in order to affect diagnostic and management strategies that may help improve physical function and mobility outcomes.

 

Data Sources: Literature review of current peer-reviewed research articles.

Conclusions: In the United States, the prevalence of anemia increases with advancing age, and are reported to be much higher among older NH residents than among community-dwelling older adults. Causes of anemia among the elderly are often multifactorial. Older individuals with anemia, including mild anemia and even low normal level, have demonstrated lower muscle strength, physical function, mobility, and increased morbidity and mortality outcomes.

Implications for Practice: Given the potentially significant relationship between anemia and physical performance outcomes among NH residents, gaining a better understanding will help guide future evidence-based care by allowing the APN an opportunity to tailor both medical and restorative care interventions. Because anemia is a potentially modifiable condition, intervention may preserve, limit, or reverse functional impairment and/or disablement, and allow for maximal functional independence.