Living with a diagnosis of dementia can make many older people at increased risk to other health conditions, infections and falls.
Research shows that due to this increase people with dementia also have multiple hospital admissions, more so than those without the condition.
A recent research has looked into the rates of readmission of older people, and how hospital stays can impact people’s health.
Because of their increased risk for delirium and falls, these older people likely to do poorly during hospital stays compared to older adults without dementia.
It is not uncommon for people with dementia in general to struggle with agitation after admission, due to change to their environment and medication.
Many are often confined to their bed or are physically restrained for safety and, for many, this limitation and overall impact on their comfort can result in a decline in their physical and cognitive functions.
It should be noted that this does not mean older people without dementia do not struggle with their recovery in hospital. However, this shows little about the rates of readmission.
A recent Japanese study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society which looked at those who were being admitted to the hospital within 30 days of a previous hospital discharge.
What they found was that older adults with dementia had about twice the risk for hospital readmissions compared to the risk for those without dementia.
Though that sounds high, it’s also dependent on what the initial reason for hospital admission was. For example, people with falls were more likely to be re-admitted than people with gastrointestinal inflammation.
In 17 of the top 30 most common health conditions, older adults with a diagnosis of dementia were more likely to be readmitted to the hospital than people without dementia.
The most common included hip fractures pneumonia, brain infarction, and a number of different cancers.
The research found that there were a number of specific reasons why people with dementia at higher risk.
One was that older people with dementia may have difficulty following directions about taking medication and attending follow-up visits. If there is not adequate care after after discharge, this may lead to poor health and readmissions.
People with communication and cognitive difficulties, commonly seen in dementia, may struggle to express their symptoms, which can delay decisions to seek treatment and increase the risk of complications.
A proposed solution made by the Japanese research team was ensuring that patients were given nutritional care and that their pain was alleviated.
It was suggested that after discharge, it’s crucial that people maintain their medication and that hospitals provide advice and make follow-up telephone calls to the patient’s family and care staff.
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