Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Certain leisure activities may reduce post-surgical delirium among older adults

Public Release: 21-Jun-2016
Certain leisure activities may reduce post-surgical delirium among older adults
Older adults who engage in leisure activities more than 20 times a week are far less likely to experience delirium following certain types of surgery than those who engage in fewer weekly leisure activities, new research suggests
American Geriatrics Society

Delirium, or the medical term for experiencing sudden confusion, is upsetting for both older adults and their families. In fact, it is one of the most common complications older adults face after surgery (a time often referred to as the "post-operative" period).


The researchers examined a group of 142 older adults who were scheduled for elective knee, hip, or spinal surgery. They determined whether or not the people participated in leisure activities such as reading books or newspapers, knitting, emailing, playing cards or other games, working on crossword puzzles, or joining in group meetings.

Of those involved in the study, 32 percent developed post-operative delirium. Those who were diagnosed with delirium had participated in fewer leisure activities before surgery compared with people who didn't experience delirium.

Out of all the activities, reading books, using email, and playing computer games reduced the risk of delirium. Playing computer games and singing were the only two activities that predicted lower severity of delirium.

The researchers reported that each additional day of participation in a leisure activity reduced post-operative delirium by 8 percent. According to the researchers, maintaining leisure activities later in life could be an important way to lessen the chances of developing delirium following surgery. This is important, since delirium increases an older adult's risk for functional decline, dementia, and even mortality. What's more, people with severe post-operative delirium are at greater risk for being institutionalized and for dying.

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