And going home doesn’t automatically make everything fine again.
Many seniors experience loss of memory, confusion and cognitive problems when they’re discharged from the hospital.
The National Institute of Aging commissioned a study on this phenomenon, and it was completed by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Two hundred seniors age 70-plus who had no previous cognitive or dementia issues were given a Mini-Mental Status Examination upon release from the hospital.
This test, which is comprised of 30 questions, only takes a few minutes to administer, and checks for things such as orientation to time and place, calculation, attention and recall.
The patient is asked to repeat three words, tell time, know the day of the week, spell a word backward and copy a figure with pencil and paper.
Nearly one-third of those senior patients being released from the hospital had low cognition scores.
This means that seniors coming out of the hospital might not understand the instructions they’re given for medications and self-care.
Tested again one month later, their scores had risen considerably for things like reading, writing, calculations and comprehension.
One conclusion of the study was that “patient self-management” training -- teaching the patient about his or her medications and care -- should be handled later rather than at the time the patient is being sent home.
Another conclusion was that doctors and family (and I’d add “friends”) need to step up, be aware of the phenomenon and give assistance -- or at least arrange for it.
Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.
Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to email@example.com.
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