Obese Seniors Less Likely to Die at Home Than Less Heavy Peers


Most Americans say they want to die at home when the time comes. But a new study suggests that the more obese someone is, the less likely they are to achieve that goal.

The study was published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine and looked at the records of more than 5,600 senior citizens taking part in a long-term health study. The researchers looked at how body mass index – a measure of obesity – impacted use of and access to end-of-life services like hospice. hospice provides support to people in their final months of life – usually in their own home.

The researchers found that the more overweight someone was, the less likely they were to enter hospice at all. If the overweight seniors did enter hospice, they spent fewer days using the service than their less-heavy peers.

The study also found that the more obese someone was, the greater the cost to the Medicare system in their final days of life – despite the fact that they are using hospice less. The study’s authors say that may be because it can require more staff to take care of obese hospice patients.  However, they note that Medicare hospice reimbursement is capped no matter a person’s BMI.

West Virginia has the second oldest population in the nation behind Florida. And more than a third of the population is obese.

Appalachia Helth News

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.