With unfamiliar surroundings and loss of independence blamed as the cause.
A study earlier this year found that the more frequent visits you make to the hospital increase the chances for the elderly developing Dementia. The elderly are more likely to lose their memory if they are taken to hospital, the Rush University Medical Centre, Chicago research says.
Their ability to remember names or events and concentrate on tasks declines sharply after only a few days on wards.
Experts believe it may possible be triggered by an unfamiliar hospital environment or maybe even their sudden loss of independence.
The Rush University Medical Centre Researchers studied 1,870 older people over a 12 year period.
All underwent memory tests every 3 years to check their ability to remember details of a story, key names or events. During the course of the study, 1,335 people were admitted to hospital at least once and stayed in hospital for an average of 5 days. The Rush University Medical Centre researchers found that their average ‘cognitive function’ – being their ability to process thoughts and remember names and events etc – declined 2.5 times faster if they had been in hospital. And once a person’s cognitive function declines they are then far more likely to develop dementia.
Dr Robert Wilson, of Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, said:
‘Understanding a possible link to something as common as hospital stays is extremely important.’
He said that if other studies backed up his findings, the elderly should be encouraged to leave hospital sooner to lessen the effects.
Dr Wilson added: ‘Further research may help to develop strategies to prevent medical problems in older people that lead to hospital stays. ‘It could also lead to changes in hospital inpatient and discharge policies.’
Experts think that perhaps the noisy and unfamiliar surroundings of a hospital may have a long-term effect on an elderly person’s memory. It may also be triggered by the loss of their independence as they no longer have to concentrate on their daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning and dressing.
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