Hospitalization harms memory, cognition

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Seniors who have been hospitalized have a higher risk for experiencing a cognitive decline, a new study finds.

In a study of 1,870 Chicagoans over the age of 65, researchers tested the participants' cognitive functioning and long-term memory after a hospitalization. They found that overall cognitive function declined more than twice as fast after a first hospital stay. What's more, on specific cognitive tests, the rate of decline after the 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.

These findings could be critical with hospitals and nursing homes increasingly being encouraged to work together to prevent hospital readmissions for nursing home residents, Rush University researchers said.

They found that the severity of the illness, longer hospital stays and older age each were associated with a more rapid cognitive decline after hospitalization. But these factors did not eliminate the effect of hospitalization.

The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging. It was published in the journal Neurology.
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