Background: Comorbidity in older adults may lead to lower perceived health status and a decrease in quality of life (QoL). The objective of this study is to analyze the relationship between comorbidity, health status, QoL, and dementia in institutionalized older adults.
Methods: Cross-sectional, multicenter study in residential care settings in Spain. Two groups of institutionalized older adults of 60 years of age and older were compared: 234 persons with normal cognitive function and 525 with dementia according to DSM-IV-TR criteria. Assessments included: sociodemographic questionnaire, EQ-5D index for health-related QoL, Visual Analogue Scale (EQ-VAS) for health status, number of chronic medical conditions (comorbidity), Barthel Index for functional independence, and Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire.
Results: The group with dementia presented significantly worse QoL, health, and functional status than people without dementia. The most prevalent chronic medical conditions were musculoskeletal (72.3%), followed by genito-urinary disorders (60.2%). Controlling for age and sex, people with dementia and higher comorbidity exhibited lower EQ-VAS scores; however, no significant difference was found for the EQ-5D index. The health conditions that contributed the most to the EQ-VAS differences between the dementia and non-dementia groups were sight, oral, and genito-urinary problems.
Conclusions: When compared to older adults with no dementia, people with dementia and high comorbidity reported the most compromised health status, especially in those with sight, oral, and genito-urinary problems. These differences should be taken into consideration when selecting strategies to maintain and improve the health status of older adults in residential care settings.