-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors' memory and
thinking skills decline more rapidly than normal after they've been
hospitalized, a new study finds.
The study included nearly 1,900 Chicago residents over age 65
whose memory and thinking skills were tested every three years for
up to 12 years. During the study, 71 percent of the participants
were hospitalized at least once.
On average, seniors' scores on tests of memory and thinking
skills decline slightly as they grow older, the researchers
This study found that seniors' overall scores declined twice as
fast after a first hospital stay, compared either to their previous
rate of decline or to those who had not been admitted to the
When the researchers looked at specific tests, they found that
the rate of decline after a first hospital stay was more than three
times faster on a long-term memory test and 1.5 times faster on a
complex attention test.
The findings remained the same even after the researchers
accounted for factors such as severe illness, longer hospital stays
and older age, according to the study published online March 21 in
"Our study is timely, as the United States population continues to rapidly age and researchers try to identify factors that could reduce memory and thinking problems in the elderly," study author Robert Wilson, a professor of neurological sciences and psychology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said in a journal news release. "Understanding a possible link to something as common as hospital stays is extremely important."
"Further research may help to develop strategies to prevent medical problems in older people that lead to hospital stays," Wilson said. "It could also lead to changes in hospital inpatient and discharge policies."
Although the research shows an association between
hospitalization and mental decline, it does not prove a
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about
memory and cognitive health.
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