2022 Spring GAPNA Newsletter Volume 41 Number 1

Impact of the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Older Adult Hospitalizations

Annually, there are approximately 13.2 million hospitalizations for adults 65 years and older in the United States, including for medical conditions (67%), surgeries (25%), injuries (6%), and mental health and substance use conditions (2%).

With the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in early 2020, hospital utilization changed considerably, as areas of the country saw spikes in COVID-19 cases and subsequent hospitalizations. Adults 65 years and older, especially those living in nursing homes, are vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their age, underlying frailty, and communal living conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that while there was no increased rate of COVID-19 infection among older years compared with those aged 18-29 years, there were increased rates of hospitalization (4-9 times) and death (95-230 times) among adults aged 65 and over. Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 varied by state and across time

Little is known, however, about the impact of the initial period of the pandemic on hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths overall for older adults.

A recent analysis indicates that as the COVID-19 pandemic set in (April-September 2020), there were 16% fewer hospitalizations for adults 65 and older in 13 states compared with the same period in the previous 4 years. However, there were 30% more in-hospital deaths among patients in this age group.

To learn more, see Fang, Z., & Owens, P.L. (2021). Changes in hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths for adults aged 65 years and older in the initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic (April-September 2020), 13 states. Statistical Brief #285. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.