Dr. Christopher Callahan of Indiana University School of Medicine, who is also Regenstrief Institute investigator, said the finding challenges the commonly held view that most individuals with dementia in the United States eventually move to nursing homes and die there.
"This is a study on what it is like to live with dementia over a five- to 10-year period," Callahan said in a statement. "You probably won't proceed on a straight line from home to hospital to nursing home. You will experience multiple transitions as you progress from mild to moderate to advanced dementia."
Most people with dementia, even advanced dementia, die of a physical condition such as heart disease, cancer or pneumonia, Callahan said.
People with dementia go to a nursing home after hospitalization 74 percent of the time but they don't remain there. Approximately one-quarter will return to the hospital in less than a month and many of the remainder will return home, Callahan said.
The researchers determined a majority of care for those with dementia, even advanced dementia, is provided in the community by families, the study said.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.