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Senior Health (cont.)

Seniors and Hospitalization

Seniors comprise the majority of hospitalized patients by the virtue their advanced age and multiple chronic (long standing) health problems. As hospital visits and admission to hospitals become more frequent for seniors, their overall health status can further decline with each episode. Hospitalization is often necessary for seniors, although, it is not always free of risks and complications.

Delirium is an important complication seen in the hospitalized seniors. It is recognized as episodes of waxing and waning confusion. Delirium is typically reversible, but it can potentially linger for a long time. It can also reset one's mental function at a lower baseline. Delirium can have many causes including:

  • The impact of the medical illness on the body and mind
  • Unfamiliar environment of the hospital
  • Interacting with unknown people or strangers
  • Lack of sleep due to noise and lighting at night
  • Frequent night time awakening to draw blood or check vital signs
  • The effect of pain medications and sedatives on thinking and mental judgment
  • Presence of unnatural objects as in intravenous lines, urinary catheters, and other medical devices attached to the body

Other potential dangers and risks for hospitalized elderly are as follows:

  • Hospital acquired infections
  • Side effects and complications of medications and procedures
  • Decline in function and deconditioning
  • Falls and injuries

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