Objective: To assess cumulative incidence and non-cognitive factors predicting nursing home placement in a defined older population.
Design and setting: Six-year follow-up of a population-based cohort living west of Sydney.
Participants: 3654 non-institutionalised residents aged 49 years or older (82.4% of those eligible) participated in baseline examinations during 1992 to 1994.
Main outcome measures: Permanent nursing home admission for long-term institutionalised aged care in New South Wales, confirmed by records of approvals by the regional Aged Care Assessment Team and subsidy payments by government.
Results: After excluding 384 participants who moved from the area or were lost to follow-up, 162 participants (5.0%) had been admitted to nursing homes on a permanent basis by October 1999. Of participants who died since baseline, 20% had been admitted to a nursing home before death. Of those alive, 1.6% were current nursing home residents. Six-year cumulative incidence rates for nursing home placement were 0.7%, 1.1%, 2.4%, 3.9%, 9.0%, 18.3% and 34.9% for people aged 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84 and 85 years or older, respectively. Non-cognitive factors at baseline predicting subsequent nursing home admission included each additional year of age (risk ratio [RR], 1.14), fair or poor compared with excellent self-rated health (RR, 2.9, 3.6), walking difficulty (RR, 3.6) and current smoking (RR, 1.9). People owning their homes had a decreased likelihood of nursing home placement (RR, 0.6).
Conclusions: Incidence rates of institutional aged care doubled for each five-year interval from the age of 60 years. A range of non-cognitive factors predict nursing home placement.