Lead study author Dr. Leonard C. Gray of the Center for Research in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues examined medical records for 2,282 patients age 74 and older in 13 different emergency departments in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Iceland, India and Sweden.
The findings, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found functional and cognitive problems increased dramatically after patients arrived at the hospital emergency department.
More than one-third of the patients had a recent fall prior to coming to the emergency department.
The study found prior to visiting the emergency department, 54 percent were independent for all living skills, but that dropped to 33 percent after hospital treatment at the emergency department; 26 percent displayed symptoms of cognitive impairment, but before arriving to the ER 20 percent had cognitive difficulties. In addition, before coming to the ER, 26 percent of older patients could not walk without supervision; after coming to the ER, that number rose to 49 percent, the study said.