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D. How Social Support Helps the Elderly

Narrator: This is Science Today. A National Institute on Aging study has found that frequent visits from family and friends, helped elderly people who have recently been hospitalized and live alone, improve their functional status. Aging expert, Dr. Kathryn Borgenicht of the University of California, San Francisco, says factors that keep the elderly at home are not just based on medical condition or functional status.

Borgenicht: A lot of it depends on what your social support system is, what your financial support is, that it may have very little to do with an actual medical system. It may have more to do with some of the other support systems in the community.

Narrator: Borgenicht says those who may need long-term health care should discuss with their family and doctors what their needs and goals are.

Borgenicht: We are constantly working with people about the issue of how much help does somebody need versus how much help caregivers think they need. And sometimes that can be dissparent. What is the goal for this individual person? Is it to stay at home? Then what are the pieces that may help that person stay at home? You've got to work on it this way.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.