Strategies Used by Older Patients to Prevent Functional Decline During Hospitalization

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Almost one third of older patients hospitalized for acute care suffer functional decline. Few studies have investigated the point of view of older patients on prevention of this decline. Within the framework of a descriptive qualitative study, the perceptions of 30 hospitalized older adults were collected regarding their personal prevention strategies, the barriers to implementing these, and nursing staff interventions deemed useful. Results show that participants are sensitive to the risk of functional decline and utilize various preventive strategies particularly to maintain their physical abilities, maintain good spirits, keep a clear mind, and foster nutrition and sleep. Their strategies are difficult to implement on account of internal and external barriers. Nursing interventions deemed useful are good relational approach, strong basic care, appropriate assessment, and respect for level of autonomy. The study underscores that older hospitalized patients are applying strategies to prevent functional decline, but some nursing interventions may thwart their efforts.

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