For Seniors, Functional Decline After Flu Hospitalization May Be Long-Lasting

Findings stress importance of prevention, especially for the flu, in the elderly

THURSDAY, Dec. 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Functional loss following a hospitalization for influenza or acute respiratory illness (ARI) can be persistent and catastrophic among older adults, according to a study published online Dec. 8 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Melissa K. Andrew, M.D., Ph.D., from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and colleagues investigated persistent functional change in older adults admitted to the hospital with influenza and other ARI using data from 925 older patients (mean age, 79.4 years) identified in the Canadian Immunization Research Network Serious Outcomes Surveillance Network (2011 to 2012 influenza season).

The researchers found that 37.4 percent had laboratory-confirmed influenza, and those with influenza had lower baseline function and higher frailty versus those with other ARI. Overall, 8.4 percent of identified patients died, 8.2 percent experienced persistent moderate functional decline, and 9.9 percent experienced catastrophic disability. The investigators observed increased odds of experiencing functional decline, catastrophic disability, and death among those with higher baseline frailty, a finding that held true for both influenza and other ARI.

“We need to think about the longer-term implications of influenza for older adults — it is not just a short-term illness,” Andrew said in a statement. “This impact on function in the longer-term makes it all the more important to prevent influenza in the first place, including through vaccination.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Read More