Hospital may affect seniors' memory
Tue, 19 Apr 2011 11:29:15 GMT
Hospitalization may cause temporary memory loss in the elderly, making it difficult for them to remember and follow discharge instructions, a new study says.
Senior people may need more support of family and health workers in a month after being discharged from hospital, Northwestern University researchers said.
During the study, researchers followed more than 200 hospitalized patients aged 70 and older, who lived on their own and had not been diagnosed with dementia or any other cognitive problem.
According to the results published in General Internal Medicine, almost one-third of the study participants showed cognitive problems at the time of discharge. More than 58 percent of them, however, did not show any impairment in the test after one month.
“When the senior is no longer sick enough to be in the hospital, it doesn't mean they're 100 percent ready to be on their own,” said lead researcher Lee Lindquist.
“If a patient is by herself the day of a hospital discharge, it's possible that she won't comprehend complicated medical instructions, increasing medication errors and chances of re-hospitalization,” Lindquist noted.
She also suggested that a medical professional or family member should be present on the day of discharge to ensure the patient would understand the discharge instructions and gets home safely.
Furthermore, researchers urged medics to screen the elderly for reduced cognition before sending them back home, adding that this approach may help doctors and health workers identify those in-need of specialized hospital-to-home transitional care and more frequent follow-ups.