A hospital stay is never something an older adult looks forward to, but at least there is the reassuring fact that the required care and treatment will be delivered to provide healing. But what occurs when the results are not as expected, and the senior winds up with a new health concern? More and more often, a surprising condition is emerging for seniors: delirium onset during hospitalization.
Coined “ICU psychosis” by geriatrician Sharon Inouye of Harvard Medical School, hospital delirium is both “underrecognized and underdiagnosed.” And perhaps all the more concerning, in up to 40% of the cases, the condition is preventable in seniors. It’s thought to be caused by the bright, active atmosphere that renders sleeping difficult, or by a certain kind of medication an older adult has been prescribed, such as an anti-anxiety or a narcotic prescription.
Studies are showing that the longer an older adult stays in the hospital, the higher chance he or she will develop hospital delirium. And the impact can be both long-lasting and severe. An incredible eight out of ten adult ICU patients exhibited markedly lower cognitive test outcomes than usual (based on education and age factors), in spite of the fact that only six percent 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 traumatic brain injury.
It’s not possible to avoid hospitalizations for older adults, so what’s the ideal way to manage this concern? A particular solution is a program known as HELP, Inouye’s Hospital Elder Life Program. It’s currently offered in 200 hospitals across the United States and is making strides in preventing delirium onset during hospitalization through visits from trained volunteers who offer assistance to help older adults stay oriented.
Inouye is also using the CAM scale (Confusion Assessment Method) in order to increase the understanding of potential delirium, and is working to encourage alternate methods to address anxiety – such as the comfort of a companion in place of strong anti-anxiety medications.
- Offer warm and friendly companionship
- Provide medication reminders
- Prevent falls in the home
- Pick up groceries and prepare healthy meals
- And much more
Our home care services are available to help older adults avoid the re-hospitalizations that can bring about hospital delirium. When a hospital visit is necessary, however, we can help seniors transition back comfortably and safely to home and keep a close eye on their condition.
Contact us today online or call us at 913-440-4209 for a free in-home consultation to discover more information on our home care in Mission Hills, KS and the surrounding areas, and how we can help improve health outcomes for an older adult you love.