Older adults are the fastest increasing group of patients admitted to hospitals. Compared to younger inpatients, they tend to suffer from multiple comorbidities and related disabilities, and therefore present a higher disease burden. As hospitals are largely configured for single acute disease care, rather than multiple comorbidities and related disabilities, the treatment of age-related multi-pathologies is one of the main challenges faced by them. Thus, accurately assessing and addressing the needs of the growing number of older inpatients is mandatory.
Inpatients with dementia are highly vulnerable. Compared to non-demented inpatients, they suffer a higher rate of adverse outcomes including mortality, delirium, and longer hospital stays. There are only limited pharmacological options for demented inpatients, and these may incur many adverse effects and the possibility of worsening their illness. Thus, nonpharmacological approaches must be considered in the treatment of these patients: these approaches should always be prioritized and only combined with medication if needed.
Art therapy has been used as a non-pharmacological approach for different types of patients. It showed that positive outcomes from the use of creative arts in therapy could have important value, relatively to patient health and well-being. Conversely, few studies have been published on the effects of art therapy, specifically painting, on inpatients with cognitive decline.