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Hospitalization can lead to adverse events for people with Alzheimer’s

June 19, 2012
by Sandra Hoban
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While hospitalization affects any patient with Alzheimer’s disease, those who suffer delirium are at a greater risk for adverse events, which may lead to nursing home admission, cognitive decline or death, a new study finds.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School affiliates Hebrew SeniorLife and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center analyzed the records of 771 patients over age 65 at the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Registry in addition to an analysis of data from medical records and other resources including Medicare and the Social Security Death Index.

“Among the hospitalized Alzheimer’s patients, a substantial proportion of risk for adverse events could be attributed to delirium, including 6.2 percent of deaths, 15.2 percent of institutionalization and 20.6 percent of cognitive decline,” lead author Tamara Fong, MD, PhD, said.

However, there are prevention strategies to address delirium in hospitalized seniors, such as keeping elders oriented to their surroundings, maintaining mobility and meeting nutritional needs as promoted by the patient care program Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP).

The study appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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