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Senior health update: Some forgetful after hospital stay

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A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that following a stay in the hospital, some seniors suffer temporary memory and cognition problems, which could result in difficulty remembering or understanding discharge instructions. As a result, experts are recommending such patients receive additional support from health care professionals and family members immediately following a hospital stay.

The study, which looked at more than 200 patients over the age of 70, who lived alone and were not diagnosed with dementia or other cognitive problems, found nearly one-third had low cognition after being hospitalized. By the one-month mark, the condition, which had gone unrecognized by health care providers, had subsided in 58 percent of sufferers.

“When the senior is no longer sick enough to be in the hospital, it doesn’t mean they’re 100 percent ready to be on their own,” said lead study author Dr. Lee Lindquist. “It’s a critical time, and they need extra support and understanding from health care professionals and family.”

Lindquist recommends screening seniors for cognition before they leave the hospital to identify those in need of more specialized transitional care.