Is Your Senior Loved One at Risk for Hospital Delirium?

Posted on: January 26th, 2017 by Ingrid Wensel | No Comments

hostpial delirium With nearly half of all hospitalizations nationwide attributed to seniors over age 65, older adults can become all too familiar with the hospital routine: check in, get the IV started, begin the process of healing and recovery, for whatever condition has landed them there. But what they may not anticipate is a disturbing side effect that can result: hospital delirium.

Defined as a “sudden disruption of consciousness and cognition marked by vivid hallucinations, delusions and an inability to focus,” hospital delirium can impact individuals of any age, but overwhelmingly seems to strike older adults. Not to be confused with dementia, which develops slowly over time, delirium’s effects are immediate. And perhaps worst of all: it’s often preventable, brought on in some cases by the environment itself, or by the very treatment that was intended to improve their health.

Studies show that longer hospitalizations result in a greater occurrence of hospital delirium, with an impact that can linger in patients long-term. In some cases, the effects are equal to those one would experience in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, or from suffering a traumatic brain injury.

The question becomes this: how can older adults continue to receive the care they need through hospitalizations, without the threat of developing hospital dementia? Sharon Inouye, a geriatrician with Harvard Medical School and director of the Aging Brain Center at Hebrew SeniorLife, is taking strides to both accurately diagnose and subsequently treat hospital delirium. As awareness of the condition becomes more prevalent, hospitals are beginning to proactively work to prevent hospital delirium through more careful use of anxiety medications, modifying the lighting, activity and noise level in patients’ rooms, removing breathing machines sooner, and limiting the use of restraints – all potential triggers.

Another development to assist is a pilot program put into place by Inouye: HELP (Hospital Elder Life Program), in which patients are visited by trained volunteers. The program is currently offered in 200 U.S hospitals and is showing promising results so far.

To The Rescue, with locations in Colorado and Iowa, can help in a variety of ways as well. Our professional home care services for seniors are customized for each individual, and can include any or all of the following as needed:

  • Skilled nursing and therapy care (physical, occupational and speech)
  • Personal care services, such as bathing and dressing
  • Friendly companionship to stave off loneliness and enhance socialization
  • Housework, laundry and linens
  • Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and any other outings
  • Running errands to pick up prescriptions, groceries, and more
  • Encouragement to engage in physician-approved exercise programs
  • Planning and preparation of delicious, healthy meals, according to any prescribed dietary plans
  • And much, much more

Partner with To The Rescue and discover the peace of mind in knowing that your senior loved ones are safe and thriving, with an enhanced quality of life and wellbeing. You can reach us any time at 720-851-2100 (Parker, Colorado) or 319-826-6068 (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), or by filling out our simple online contact form. We look forward to serving you!

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