An older adult who is hospitalized may experience increased risk of cognitive decline. A new study found that hospitalization of older adults was associated with increased memory and thinking problems.
“Our study is timely as the United States population continues to rapidly age and researchers try to identify factors that could decrease memory and thinking problems in older adults,” said Robert S. Wilson, PhD, study author and neuropsychologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Understanding a possible link to something as common as hospital stays is extremely important.”
Overall cognitive abilities declined more than twice as fast after a first hospital stay compared to previous rates before the hospital stay. The rate of decline after the first hospital stay was more than three times faster on a long-term memory test and one and a half times faster on a complex attention test.
“Further research may help to develop strategies to prevent medical problems in older people that lead to hospital stays. It could also lead to changes in hospital inpatient and discharge policies,” explained Wilson.
The study reviewed 1870 people over the age of 65. They were interviewed every three years for up to 12 years to test their memory and cognitive skills. Of those 71% were hospitalized at least once during the study.
Cognitive dysfunction has been identified as a complication of critical illness which may increase the need for hospitalization, but for this study, only 3% of hospitalizations involved critical illness.
Source: Rush University Medical Center, Neurology, Medical NewsToday