Do Caregiving Factors Affect Hospitalization Risk Among Disabled Older Adults?

Halima Amjad, John Mulcahy, Judith D. Kasper, Julia Burgdorf, David L. Roth, Ken Covinsky, Jennifer L. Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Hospitalization is common among older adults with disability, many of whom receive help from a caregiver and have dementia. Our objective was to evaluate the association between caregiver factors and risk of hospitalization and whether associations differ by dementia status. DESIGN: Longitudinal observational study. SETTING: The 1999 and 2004 National Long-Term Care Survey and the 2011 and 2015 National Health and Aging Trends Study, linked caregiver surveys, and Medicare claims. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 2,589 community-living Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, aged 65 years or older (mean age = 79 years; 63% women; 31% with dementia), with self-care or mobility disability and their primary family or unpaid caregiver. MEASUREMENTS: Self-reported characteristics of older adults and their caregivers were assessed from older adult and caregiver survey interviews. Older adult hospitalization over the subsequent 12 months was identified in Medicare claims. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for older adult characteristics and were stratified by dementia status. RESULTS: In this nationally representative cohort, 38% of older adults with disabilities were hospitalized over 12 months following interview. Increased hospitalization risk was associated with having a primary caregiver who helped with healthcare tasks (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) = 1.22; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.05–1.40), reported physical strain (aHR = 1.21; 95% CI = 1.04–1.42), and provided more than 40 hours of care weekly (aHR = 1.26; 95% CI = 1.04–1.54 vs ≤20 hours). Having a caregiver who had helped for 4 years or longer (vs <1 year) was associated with 38% lower risk of hospitalization (aHR = 0.62; 95% CI = 0.49–0.79). Older adults with and without dementia had similar rates of hospitalization (39.5% vs 37.3%; P =.4), and caregiving factors were similarly associated with hospitalization regardless of older adults' dementia status. CONCLUSION: Select caregiving characteristics are associated with hospitalization risk among older adults with disability. Hospitalization risk reduction strategies may benefit from understanding and addressing caregiving circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • caregiving
  • dementia
  • disability
  • hospitalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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