[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Care of the Aging Patient: From Evidence to Action
October 5, 2011

The Physician's Role in Patients' Nursing Home Care“She's a Very Courageous and Lovely Woman. I Enjoy Caring for Her”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Family and Community Medicine, School of Medicine (Drs Zweig and Parker-Oliver and Ms Meadows); Interdisciplinary Center on Aging (Dr Zweig); Sinclair School of Nursing (Dr Popejoy), University of Missouri, Columbia.

JAMA. 2011;306(13):1468-1478. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1420

More than 1.5 million adults live in US nursing homes, and approximately 30% of individuals in the United States will die with a nursing home as their last place of residence. Physicians play a pivotal role in the rehabilitation, complex medical care, and end-of-life care of this frail and vulnerable population. The reasons for admission are multifactorial and a comprehensive care plan based on the Minimum Data Set guides the multidisciplinary nursing home team in the care of the patient and provides assessments of the quality of care provided. Using the cases of 2 patients with different experiences, we describe the physician's role in planning for admission, participating as a team member in the ongoing assessment and care in the nursing home, and guiding care at the end of life. The increasing population of older adults has also promoted community-based and residential alternatives to traditional nursing homes. The future of long-term care will include additional challenges and rich innovations in services and options for older adults.