Study: Cognitive Decline Linked To Hospitalization

Tim Watt  |  April 4, 2012

A new study published in the journal Neurology has found a link between cognitive decline in seniors and a hospital stay.

The study looked at 1,870 people over the age of 65. Of this group, 71 percent stayed in a hospital at least once during the study. Researchers gave the patients cognitive tests before and after their hospital stays, and found their scores declined sharply following a hospital stay.

The results showed that seniors declined nearly twice as fast after being admitted to a hospital compared to their rate of decline before that point. The researchers said the cognitive decline was nearly equivalent to being ten years older in some cases.

"Understanding a link to cognitive decline to something as common as a hospital stay is very important," lead author Robert Wilson, a neuropsychologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told USA Today. "Hospitals can be a very risky experience for the elderly and we think people need to understand that."

Seniors who have experienced a cognitive decline may want to look into an elder care facility that provides Alzheimer's care, as the onset of this condition can make it dangerous to live alone.