Online calculator developed that can predict when older adults will die

An online calculator that can help predict when older adults will die has been developed.

Scientists say it will help understand the changing needs of elderly people and aid families planning how to handle their care.

The data is based on more than 491,000 older adults who used home care between 2017 and 2013 and is focused on people who are likely to die within the next five years.

The calculated life expectancy can be as low as four weeks for people who are very frail.

People are asked whether they have been diagnosed with diseases like stroke, dementia, or hypertension and whether abilities to carry out tasks over three months had decreased.

The ability to make decisions is also asked and whether they have suffered vomiting, swelling, shortness of breath, unplanned weight loss, dehydration or loss of appetite.

The calculator, named Risk Evaluation for Support: Predictions for Elder-Life in the Community Tool (RESPECT), is able to predict death within six months.

Researchers found declines in a person’s ability to carry out activities of daily living were stronger predictors of six-month mortality than the diseases that a person has.

Dr Amy Hsu, an investigator at the Bruyere Research Institute and at the University of Ottawa in Canada, said: “The RESPECT calculator allows families and their loved ones to plan.

“For example, it can help an adult child plan when to take a leave of absence from work to be with a parent or decide when to take the last family vacation together.”

Dr Peter Tanuseputro, at the Ottawa Hospital, said: “Knowing how long a person has to live is essential in making informed decisions about what treatments they should get and where they should get them.

“As a person gets closer to death, the balance shifts from having curative care as the primary goal, to care that maximizes a person’s quality of remaining life.”

The research was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.