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Analysis

Seniors Often Face New Disabilities After Hospital Discharge

By John Commins  
   February 26, 2020

Research suggests that these new disabilities can lead to readmissions, placement in a nursing home, and continued declines in patients' well-being.

Older hospital patients often encounter new disabilities after discharge, such as difficulty bathing, walking, and driving a car, a new study shows.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, suggests that these new disabilities can lead to hospital readmissions, placement in a nursing home, and continued declines in patients' well-being.

The study looked at data from the Precipitating Events Project of 515 people, with a mean age of 83, who lived at home at the beginning of the study, and who were hospitalized for acute, non-critical care.

The study participants initially were not disabled and did not need help with four basic activities: bathing, dressing, walking, and getting out of a chair. They were examined at home every 18 months and via telephone monthly.  

From one-to-six months after discharge, one than one-third of participants reported various problems including: leaving home for medical care, getting dressed, bathing, walking across a room, getting in or out of a chair, walking a quarter-mile, climbing a flight of stairs, driving a car, doing basic housework, taking medications.

Some of the participants recovered from their disabilities one to two months after discharge, except for driving, which was less common.

In many cases, however, recovery was incomplete even six months after hospital discharge. For example, the proportion of people who were not disabled at six months was 65% for bathing and meal preparation, 58% for taking medications, and 55% for driving.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

From one-to-six months after discharge, one than one-third of participants reported various problems with basic abilities.

Some of the participants recovered from their disabilities one to two months after discharge, except for driving, which was less common.

In many cases, however, recovery was incomplete even six months after hospital discharge.


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