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The Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care

Posted date: February 13, 2015

Innovative Model Focused on Function of Older Adults Shows Promise for Improving Lives and Reducing Healthcare Costs: Preliminary Findings from CAPABLE

Sarah L. Szanton, Jennifer L. Wolff, Bruce Leff, Laken Roberts, Roland J. Thorpe, Elizabeth K. Tanner, Cynthia M. Boyd, Qian-Li Xue, Jack Guralnik,David Bishai, Laura N. Gitlin, and Natalia Barolin

According to a report conducted for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, older adults who have difficulty with activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, eating, or just getting to the bathroom, utilize a vastly higher percentage of healthcare resources than those without these limitations. They are among the top 5% of health care spenders representing half of health care spending by the entire community-based population. Despite these compelling figures, functional limitations are undertreated in healthcare. A first of its kind patient-directed, team-based intervention focused on function shows great promise for improving quality of life and reducing healthcare costs.

Activity of daily living limitations improved in nearly 80% of the first 100 people who completed an intervention provided by the Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE) model as reported in preliminary findings published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. CAPABLE tripled the percentage of people who reported no longer having difficulty with walking and reduced by half the number of functional limitations experienced by participants. Funded by the CMS Innovation Center, CAPABLE is designed to overcome functional and other home environmental barriers through a structured program within the older adult’s home that is directed by the participants’ goals. Through 10 home sessions (max) each 60 to 90 minutes long over a 5-month period, an occupational therapist, a registered nurse, and a handyman work together with the older adult to identify problematic functional areas, develop intervention strategies, execute an implementation plan and support adoption of interventions.

CAPABLE is breaking new ground in the care of older adults by recognizing and addressing three important areas:

Further evaluation of CAPABLE’s effects on hospitalization and fiscal return on investment is underway but these preliminary findings are significant for improving the functional health of older adults. With the unprecedented growth in the number of older adults in the U.S., CAPABLE’s innovative model offers a tremendous opportunity for huge impact through small changes focused on improving function.

Click here to learn more about CAPABLE and these preliminary findings.