Older people may have an increased risk of problems with memory and thinking abilities after being in the hospital, suggests a new study published in the March 21, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"Our study is timely as the United States population continues to rapidly age and researchers try to identify factors that could reduce memory and thinking problems in the elderly," said study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "Understanding a possible link to something as common as hospital stays is extremely important."
The study involved 1,870 people over the age of 65 who lived in Chicago and were interviewed every three years for up to 12 years to test their memory and thinking skills. Of those, 1,335 people, or 71 percent, were hospitalized at least once during the study.
"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," said Wilson.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging.