Knowledge about the need for care of elderly individuals in community dwellings and the factors affecting their needs and support is limited. The aim of this study was to characterize the frailty of a population of elderly individuals living in community dwellings in Sweden in relation to co-morbidity, use of drugs, and risk of severe conditions such as malnutrition, pressure ulcers, and falls. In 2008, 315 elderly individuals living in community dwellings were interviewed and examined as part of the SHADES-study. The elderly demonstrated co-morbidity (a mean of three diseases) and polypharmacy (an average of seven drugs). More than half the sample was at risk for malnutrition, one third was at risk for developing pressure ulcers, and nearly all (93%) had an increased risk of falling and a great majority had cognitive problems. Age, pulse pressure, body mass index, and specific items from the modified Norton scale (MNS), the Downton fall risk index (DFRI), and the mini nutritional assessment (MNA-SF) were related to different outcomes, defining the need for care and frailty. Based on the results of this study, we suggest a single set of items useful for understanding the need for care and to improve individual based care in community dwellings.
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