Hospitals Get Elderly Out of Bed
In an attempt to prevent a condition that has been dubbed "hospital-associated disability," institutions across the country are challenging the idea that the ill elderly need to be bed-ridden. Patients are encouraged to get up and get moving rather than remaining prone and losing strength.
As Kenneth Covinsky, MD, a geriatrics specialist at University of California at San Francisco, put it in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "In older patients, acute medical illness that requires hospitalization is a sentinel event that often precipitates disability. This results in the subsequent inability to live independently and complete basic activities of daily living (ADLs). This hospitalization-associated disability occurs in approximately one-third of patients older than 70 years of age and may be triggered even when the illness that necessitated the hospitalization is successfully treated."
Dr. Covinsky, speaking to the Associated Press, said, "Non-medical people say, `Grandma went to the hospital with pneumonia ... and she was never the same again. Pneumonia is a serious illness, but it is treatable" and should not leave patients disabled. He went on to say "Life has 100 percent mortality. But if you can change the age at which people lose function," they may live longer, better lives.