Hospitals are there to help patients recover from acute illness or exacerbations of chronic illness. Their primary goal is a medically stable patient. Mobility is not a top priority and many patients do not get the physical stimulation they need. When in hospital lying in bed, muscles weaken and stiffen, cardiovascular endurance suffers, and there is stasis in the body.
Patients normally return to residential facilities weaker than when they went in. The disease process weakens the entire system, along with inadequate intake of food and water and returning with infections contracted at the hospital. Some patients stop walking altogether and have to regain their ability to walk.
These patients need an active rehabilitation program to regain strength, mobility, balance and the ability to walk again. Two to three times a week of therapeutic exercise can make this happen. Many elderly patients manage to bounce back after a period of rehabilitation and regain their pre-hospital function. This depends on the resilience and determination of the patient as well as any limitations imposed by their medical condition post hospitalization.