One in three people over 70, admitted to the hospital with acute conditions such as pneumonia, are discharged in a state of functional decline. Walk in--leave in a wheelchair and probably an adult diaper.
Some researchers at the University of Haifa (J of American Geriatrics Soc) looked into this. They cited a hypothetical case of a 78-yr-old man, able to walk, eat, and use the bathroom, who was admitted for 3-4 days for a heart arrhythmia and left needing a cane and soiling himself.
What was it about hospitalization that was causing this? They looked at 900 cases of people who did not go to the hospital for loss of functioning. That came from the hospital stay.
A third left with reduced functioning and almost half of those reported reduced functioning a month after leaving.
A big factor in this--they found--was the patients' lack of mobility in the hospital. Patients think they are so sick they have to stay in bed--they don't get up and walk around the room or the halls. Half the patients never even left their room!
Another factor was unnecessary use of catheters and diapers for urination, use of sleep medications, and inadequate nutrition. People were not hungry or did not like the food. Or they had to fast for this test or that one. Sixty percent did not get their daily recommended intake!
The most important recommendation was to stay mobile--walk. Remember that when you have an elderly relative in the hospital. Or if you are hospitalized, push to get up.
Also--I know from my mother's experience--that they are pretty quick to catheterize people--it's easier for them but bad for the patient. Besides not making people get up and walk to the bathroom, catheters can cause infections.