A new study led by researchers from the University of Sydney has found that an unhealthy lifestyle in adults aged 60 and above was associated with an increased risk of admission to a nursing home.
Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health on Thursday, the cohort study was based on an analysis of over 125,000 Australians in their 60s, whose lifestyles, such as smoking status, physical activity levels, sitting time, sleep patterns and diet, were placed under academic scrutiny.
Among the 127,108 participants with a mean follow-up of 10 years, researchers observed that one in seven older adults was in the high-risk and least healthy lifestyle group, and had a 43-percent greater risk of nursing home admission, compared to those in the healthiest lifestyle group.
Four of the five factors, except for diet, were independently linked to nursing home admission, with the most alarming risk detected among current smokers.
Though the latest research is an observational study and requires following efforts to establish a direct cause, the team suggested that strategies to improve lifestyle factors should be explored as new public health measures.
"While further research is needed, our results suggest that people could potentially modify their lifestyle to alter their risk of admission to a nursing home or aged care facility in the future," said Alice Gibson, lead author of the study and research fellow at the University of Sydney.
"This is incredibly timely with the latest Intergenerational Report suggesting the number of people aged 65 and over in Australia will more than double over the next four decades, with an unprecedented demand on the aged care sector," she added.