Many Older Adults Hospitalized with Flu Face Persistent Functional Decline

In a study of older adults admitted to the hospital with influenza and other acute respiratory illnesses during the 2011-2012 flu season, functional decline was common-and for some, this decline was persistent and catastrophic. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Among the 925 patients included in the study, 8.4% died, and 18.2% experienced a clinically meaningful loss of function at 30 days post-discharge, of whom half experienced catastrophic disability. Higher frailty at the time of hospital admission was associated with a higher likelihood of experiencing functional decline, catastrophic disability, and death.

“We need to think about the longer-term implications of influenza for older adults-it is not just a short-term illness. This impact on function in the longer-term makes it all the more important to prevent influenza in the first place, including through vaccination,” said lead author Melissa K. Andrew, MD, PhD, of Dalhousie University, in Canada.

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