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Hospitals Not Always Good for the Elderly

Older adults risk decline after stays, study finds

WEDNESDAY, April 9, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Being hospitalized may help save the lives of older adults, but it could cost them their independence when they return home.

So says a study by San Francisco VA Medical Center researchers.

They found that more than a third of the older adults in their study were less able to take care of themselves at home after being hospitalized. The study appears in the April issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.

The researchers examined data from 2,293 people over the age of 70. The patients or their relatives were interviewed at the time of hospital admission and again at discharge.

They were asked whether they could perform the standard list of "activities of daily living" -- bathing, dressing, using a toilet, transferring out of a bed or chair, and eating without assistance.

The interview at the time of hospital admission included an assessment of the patient's performance two weeks before coming to hospital. That was meant to determine the patient's baseline function.

The study found that 35 percent of the people in the study declined in function between baseline and hospital discharge. That included 12 percent who had no decline between baseline and hospital admission and 18 percent who declined between baseline and hospital admission and were unable to recover their baseline function.

The remaining 5 percent had decline between baseline and hospital admission and additional decline before being discharged from hospital.

The rate of decline was more than 50 percent for people age 85 and older, the study found.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about independent living for older adults.

SOURCE: Unversity of California, San Francisco, news release, April 3, 2003
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