Researchers are working to understand and treat hospital delirium in seniors.

A hospital stay is never something a senior looks forward to, but at least there is the comforting fact that the required care and treatment are going to be delivered to provide healing. But what happens when the outcome is not as expected, and the older adult winds up with a new health concern? More and more often, a surprising condition is emerging: hospital delirium in seniors.

Coined “ICU psychosis” by geriatrician Sharon Inouye of Harvard Medical School, hospital delirium is both “underrecognized and underdiagnosed.” And all the more concerning, in approximately 40% of the cases, the disorder is preventable in seniors. It’s thought to be a result of the bright, active atmosphere which makes sleeping difficult, or by a particular kind of medication a senior has been prescribed, such as an anti-anxiety or a narcotic prescription.

Studies are revealing that the longer an older adult stays in the hospital, the greater chance she or he will develop hospital delirium. And the impact may be both long-lasting and severe. An astonishing eight out of ten adult ICU patients displayed markedly lower cognitive test outcomes than usual (based on age and education predictions), in spite of the fact that only six percent had any cognitive impairment prior to the hospitalization. Furthermore, as many as 2/3 of the patients showed a level of impairment that would be expected in a person with mild Alzheimer’s disease or even a TBI.

It is not possible to simply avoid hospitalizations for older adults, so what is the most effective way to manage this growing concern? A particular solution is a program called HELP, Inouye’s Hospital Elder Life Program. It is currently available in 200 hospitals across the United States and is making strides in preventing hospital delirium through visits from trained volunteers who offer assistance to help seniors stay oriented.

Inouye is also utilizing the CAM scale (Confusion Assessment Method) in order to assess awareness of potential delirium, and is striving to promote alternative techniques to address anxiety – like the comfort of a companion in place of strong anti-anxiety medications.

Live Free Home Health Care, a respected provider of award-winning home care in Bristol, NH and the surrounding communities, is also available to provide assistance in a variety of ways. Our knowledgeable home care team can:

  • Offer warm and friendly companionship
  • Provide medication reminders
  • Prevent falls in the home
  • Pick up groceries and prepare healthy meals
  • And so much more

Our home care services will help seniors avoid the re-hospitalizations that can trigger hospital delirium. When a hospital visit is necessary, however, we can help older adults transition back comfortably and safely to home and keep a close eye on their condition.

Contact us online or give us a call at 603-217-0149 for a free in-home assessment to find out more about our home care services in Bristol, NH and the surrounding areas, and how they are able to improve health outcomes for a senior you love.