Online calculator predicts when older people will die


OTTAWA, Ontario – Scientists have developed an online calculator that can help predict when the elderly will die. It is based on data from nearly half a million people. Scientists say it will help understand the changing needs of older people and help their families plan how to manage their care.

The data is based on more than 491,000 older people who used home care between 2013 and 2017 and focuses on people at risk of dying in the next five years. The calculated life expectancy can be as low as four weeks for very frail people.

People are asked if they have been diagnosed with diseases like a stroke, dementia, or high blood pressure and their ability to perform tasks has decreased in the past three months. They are also asked about their ability to make decisions and whether they have suffered from vomiting, swelling, shortness of breath, weightloss, dehydration or loss of appetite.

The calculator, named “Support Risk Assessment: Community Elder Lives Prediction Tool” (RESPECT), can predict death within six months. Researchers found that declines in a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living were stronger predictors of six-month mortality than the illnesses a person suffers from.

“The RESPECT calculator allows families and their loved ones to plan. For example, it can help an adult child plan when to take time off work to be with a parent or decide when to take the last family vacation together, ”says Dr. Amy Hsu, a researcher at the Bruyère Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, in a declaration.

“Knowing how long a person must live is critical to making informed decisions about what treatments they should receive and where to get them,” adds Dr. Peter Tanuseputro of The Ottawa Hospital. “As a person nears death, the balance shifts from curative care as the primary focus to care that maximizes a person’s remaining quality of life. “

The research is published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

SWNS writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.


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