Loss of autonomy of hospitalized elderly patients: Does hospitalization increase disability?

O. Mercante, C. Gagliardi, L. Spazzafumo, A. Gaspari, S. David, D. Cingolani, C. Castellani, L. D'Augello, R. Baldoni, R. Silvaroli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim. The study of the determinants of loss of autonomy during hospitalization may be valuable in the identification of the most effective interventions and to achieve better outcomes. The aim of this study was to describe changes in the level of autonomy of the elderly admitted to the hospital at the entrance and at discharge in relation to a rehabilitation program. Methods. Prospective observational study conducted at the INRCA Geriatric Hospital of Ancona. The study included patients aged 65 years and over, daily admitted to INRCA Hospital of Ancona between September and December 2010. Criteria for inclusion were age ≤ 65 years, length of stay > 24 hours and signed informed consent. Patients admitted for less than 24 hours or in day hospital or day surgery were excluded from the beginning. A total of 1266 elderly patients were recruited in the period. From this sample, 74 people who died during hospitalization were excluded. At the time of hospitalization (within 24 hours) and at discharge, patients were evaluated with the Barthel Index (BI), the Rankin scale, and a short assessment of cognitive status derived from the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). Results. Referring to 1192 subjects who participated to the study, the mean age was 82.13 years ±7.39, age range between 65 and 100 years. The average BI was 56.6±36.16 (SD) (median value =60) at admission and 63.84±34.7 (SD) (median value=70) at discharge. The average Rankin score at admission was 2.63±1.5 (SD) (median value=3). Conclusion. Patients presented better score of the BI at discharge and this figure was associated to the implementation of a rehabilitation treatment. Hospitalization of the elderly patient in a suitable environment, such as a geriatric hospital, contrary to some theories highlighting only the negative aspects of removal from the living environment, can be a measure of benefit for the reduction of disability and the recovery of compromised activities along and after the acute event. The collection of data on the level of autonomy of the subjects before and after hospitalization can be a useful element for clinical evaluation in a geriatric hospital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-708
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Aged
  • Geriatrics
  • Personal autonomy
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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