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The Gerontologist Special Issue Highlights Research on Aging Veterans

February 18, 2016

This Special Issue of The Gerontologist highlights an array of issues related to the health and healthcare of aging Veterans. The median age of the more than 20 million Veterans in the United States today is 64 years. Veterans of the Korean War and WWII are experiencing late old age, while more than half of the Gulf War Veterans are aged 45 and older (16% are between 55 and 85 years). This issue includes articles that discuss the lives of diverse groups of aging Veterans and society's accommodations to multiple generations of Veterans as they move through middle and older adulthood. The issue features 15 articles, several written by VA HSR&D researchers, on a range of topics that include:

  • Wojtusiak and colleagues used VA electronic health record (EHR) data for more than 5,500 Veterans residing in VA Community Living Centers to assess changes in activities of daily living (ADLs) following hospital discharge. Investigators identified seven patterns of recovery and loss in functional ability, and found that functional decline and recovery can be predicted with relatively high accuracy using EHR data.
  • Levyand colleagues examined the sequence of functional decline and recovery related to ADLs among 296,051 residents of VA nursing homes between January 2000 and October 2012. They found that the majority of Veterans followed four pathways of function loss, the most likely sequence being bathing, grooming, walking, dressing, toileting, bowel continence, urinary continence, transferring, and feeding. Knowing that recovery of deficits follows a predictable path enables effective interventions to be developed.
  • Padula and colleagues used data from the Women's Health Initiative to compare the cognitive functioning of more than 7,000 women Veterans and non-Veterans and found that cognitive scores decreased more over time among Veterans than non-Veterans.
  • Nichols and colleagues describe the process by which a behavioral intervention for caregivers of persons with dementia – Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregivers Health (REACH) – was translated, expanded, and implemented in a VA setting.

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