Assessments of mental status in elderly persons admitted to home health agencies are the basis for decision-making related to resources provided. A home health nurse's perceptions of an elderly client's capacity for self-care determines whether community services will be prescribed. In institutional settings, evaluation of cognition by professional nurses is often incomplete or inaccurate. It was the purpose of this study to compare the judgements of cognition made by nine home health nurses who were admitting elderly clients to a visiting nurse association with scores from an objective measure of mental status. Findings suggest that these nurses relied primarily on orientation as an indicator of cognitive abilities.
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