Hospitalized Elderly at Increased Risk for Cognitive Decline

Researchers, cited in the Feb. 24 Journal of the American Medical Association report that hospitalized elderly have an increased risk of cognitive decline.

2,929 people, aged 65 and older, were studied over 13 years. All did not have dementia at the start of the study. During follow-up, 1,287 were hospitalized for a non-critical illness and 41 were hospitalized for a critical illness, while 1,601 of the participants were not hospitalized.

Among those hospitalized for one or more non-critical illnesses, there were 228 cases of dementia, and among those hospitalized with one or more critical illnesses, there were five cases of dementia. There were 146 cases of dementia reported among the participants who weren’t hospitalized.

Researchers concluded that patients hospitalized for a non-critical illness were 40 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who weren’t hospitalized.

Is it the hospitalization or the illness to begin with that causes this increase? The jury is out.

“These results also could suggest that factors associated with acute illness, and to a greater degree with critical illness, may be causally related to cognitive decline.”wrote Dr. William J. Ehlenbach of the University of Washington, Seattle.

Perhaps the hospital stay only exacerbates the issues. Any way you look at it, still gets back to basics. Most of what lands us in the hospital, not all but most, is directly related to our life choices.