Physical and mental health of homebound older adults: an overlooked population

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Dec;58(12):2423-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03161.x. Epub 2010 Nov 10.


There are currently more than 38.9 million people aged 65 an older in the United States. Up to 3.6 million of these people are considered housebound and in need of home-based care. Although homebound status is not defined specifically, with a broad range of disability levels, it is evident that people who are homebound suffer from a multitude of medical and psychiatric illnesses. This review examines the current literature to identify the specific physical and psychiatric factors most responsible for older adults becoming and remaining housebound. Homebound older adults suffer from metabolic, cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and musculoskeletal diseases, as well as from cognitive impairment, dementia, and depression, at higher rates than the general elderly population. The information in this review will explain the specific types of care the homebound population needs and discuss the care that could help ease their suffering and delay their entry into a nursing home or hospital.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / economics
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Disease / nursing
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Health Status*
  • Homebound Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Mental Health*
  • Prevalence
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology