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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Michigan: Suicide Among Older Adults in Long-Term Care Suggests More Needed to Promote Well-Being

Clinicians, administrators and policymakers should consider ways to support the mental health and well-being of older adults as they go through residential transitions, according to a University of Michigan study that looked at deaths by suicide among people 55 and older.

The study focuses on suicides among adults who were living in, or planning to move to, long-term care centers such as assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

“There are things we can do to promote the emotional health and psychosocial well-being of people who are living in long-term care facilities or are transitioning into them and their family members,” said lead author Dr. Briana Mezuk, associate professor of epidemiology and co-director of the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Of 47,759 deaths, researchers identified 1,037 deaths by suicide associated with long-term care including 428 adults who were living in long-term care facilities, and 449 who were described in death reports as being in the process of transitioning into or out of long-term care facilities. Another 160 suicides occurred among older adults who were caring for a family member who was living in long-term care, or had experienced a recent hospitalization that gave rise to fears that he or she may need long-term care, or had expressed concerns about the financial burden of long-term care.

The results suggest that residential transitions may be an important point of engagement for suicide prevention.

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