A hospital stay is never something a senior looks forward to, but at least there is the reassuring fact that the necessary treatment and care are going to be delivered to provide healing. But what occurs when the results are not as expected, and the senior ends up with a new health concern? More and more frequently, a surprising condition called hospital delirium in the elderly is emerging.
Coined “ICU psychosis” by geriatrician Sharon Inouye of Harvard Medical School, hospital delirium is both “underrecognized and underdiagnosed.” And perhaps even more troubling, in as many as 40% of the cases, the disorder is preventable in older adults. It is thought to be brought on by the bright, active atmosphere that makes sleeping difficult, or by a certain type of medication a senior is being prescribed, such as a narcotic or anti-anxiety medication.
Studies are revealing that the longer an older adult remains in the hospital, the greater chance she or he will develop hospital delirium. And the impact could be both long-lasting and severe. An incredible 8 out of 10 adult ICU patients displayed markedly lower cognitive test results than usual (based on education and age predictions), in spite of the fact that only 6% had any cognitive impairment prior to the hospitalization. Not only that, but well over 2/3 of the patients showed a level of impairment that would be expected in an individual with mild dementia or even a TBI.
It’s not possible to avoid hospitalizations for older adults, so what is the most effective way to manage this growing concern? One particular solution is a program called HELP, Inouye’s Hospital Elder Life Program. It’s currently available in 200 hospitals throughout the United States and is making strides in preventing hospital delirium in the elderly through visits from trained volunteers who offer assistance to help seniors stay oriented.
Inouye is also using the CAM scale (Confusion Assessment Method) in order to assess awareness of potential delirium, and is striving to promote alternate approaches to address anxiety – such as the comfort of a companion instead of strong anti-anxiety medications.
- Offer friendly companionship
- Provide medication reminders
- Prevent falls in the home
- Pick up groceries and cook healthy meals
- And much more
Our home care services can help seniors avoid the re-hospitalizations that can trigger hospital delirium. When a hospital visit is needed, however, we can help older adults transition back comfortably and safely to home and keep a close eye on their condition.
Reach out to us at 847-787-7572 for a free in-home consultation to learn more information on our home care in Barrington, IL and nearby areas, and how we can improve health outcomes for a senior you love.