Objective.Elderly women who live alone are at increased risk for loss of independence. Hospitalization, in particular, often marks the transition from independent living to institutional care. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of rehabilitation admission to the subsequent function of elderly women and their ability to return to live-alone status.

Method.The women in the study (N = 138) were admitted to a geriatric rehabilitation unit at a large urban medical center between September 1997 and September 1998. The findings reported here pertain to the subset of African-American women (n = 122), the majority of the sample. Data were collected using several standardized assessments, including the Functional Independence Measure (FIM).

Results.The FIM motor scores improved significantly for the total sample between admission and discharge, and the mean FIM motor score for the group that subsequently attained live-alone status was significantly higher than the non–live-alone group at 3 months and 6 months postdis-charge. The participants who returned to live alone also reported significantly greater independence than did their non–live-alone counterparts across a variety of activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living skills.

Conclusion.These data suggest that rehabilitation is associated with improved functional outcomes, and higher functional performance is related to live-alone status.

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