Hospital stays can cause memory loss, difficulty concentrating

Kevin Magna

April 15, 2011

During a medical emergency, many seniors often find themselves confined to a hospital bed for days on end. A new study conducted by a Northwestern University team has found that the unfamiliar setting, combined with illness and a lack of sleep, can cause a temporary form of memory loss in older patients. 

This can make doctor recommendations and instructions difficult to understand. The researchers stressed that these findings showed that healthcare professionals had to pay extra attention to recovering seniors. 

"A helper on the day of discharge could make sure a senior understands discharge instructions and help her get home and follow instructions safely," lead author of the study Lee Lindquist said. "If a patient is by herself the day of a hospital discharge, it's possible that she won't comprehend complicated medical instructions, increasing medication errors and chances of re-hospitalization" 

Older adults who are looking to cut down their stays in a hospital may also want to consider investing in a medical alert system at home. This device can be used to instantly send a personal emergency response message if one is in need of assistance. 

Researchers found that the memory loss and problems with concentration may take up to a month to subside. 

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