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New scale to help predict likelihood of elderly people needing care

CHIBA -- A new evaluation scale that helps forecast the likelihood of elderly people needing care in the future has been developed by a research group here.

    Created by a research group affiliated with institutions including Chiba University, the scale consists of 10 questions covering subjects including a person's history of falls and how often they go outside. Participants provide a point value for each question, with 55 total points available.

    The scale's accuracy was verified based on survey data collected from approximately 70,000 subjects. The results showed that a high percentage of respondents who had high scores at the start of the survey were in need of care by the time of the follow-up survey four years later -- which inevitably means higher medical and care costs.

    It is expected that the scale can be used to identify people at a high risk of needing care down the road, allowing time to develop measures to reduce future medical and care costs. In addition, the survey found that average medical costs increase by 33,000 yen and average care costs increase by about 3,600 yen within three years for each point rise in the total score.

    One of the key people behind the evaluation scale is Taishi Tsuji, a specially appointed assistant professor at the Center for Preventive Medical Sciences at Chiba University. Tsuji and his team undertook the project as part of the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study, which conducts large-scale research projects regarding elderly people.

    Having identified the link between a higher point score and higher medical and care costs in the future, the group plans to investigate if it can work with high-point respondents to help reduce their risk of needing care.

    Toshiyuki Ojima, a professor at the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine comments, "This is a reliable evaluation scale. I think that the scale can be used to help high-risk people change their lifestyle to avoid needing care."

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