Researchers are working to better understand the causes of delirium in hospitalized older adults.

A hospital stay is not something a senior looks forward to, but at least there’s the reassuring fact that the necessary treatment and care are going to be delivered to provide healing. But what occurs when the results aren’t as expected, and the older adult winds up with a new health concern? More and more often, a startling condition is emerging: hospital delirium older adults.

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 as many as 40% of the cases, the condition is preventable in older adults. It is thought to be due to the bright, active atmosphere which causes sleeping difficulties, or by a specific type of medication an older adult has been prescribed, such as a narcotic or anti-anxiety prescription.

Research studies are showing that the longer a senior remains in the hospital, the higher chance he or she will develop hospital delirium. And the impact could be both severe and long-lasting. An astonishing 8 out of 10 adult ICU patients displayed markedly lower cognitive test outcomes than usual (according to education and age predictions), in spite of the fact that only 6 percent had any cognitive impairment before the hospitalization. Furthermore, as much as 2/3 of the patients showed a level of impairment that would be expected in a person with mild dementia or even a TBI.

It is not conceivable just to avoid hospitalizations for seniors, so what’s the best way to manage this concern? One particular solution is a program known as HELP, Inouye’s Hospital Elder Life Program. It is currently offered in 200 hospitals across the United States and is making strides in preventing delirium in hospitalized older adults through visits from trained volunteers who offer assistance to help seniors stay oriented.

Inouye is also using the CAM scale (Confusion Assessment Method) to help assess awareness of potential delirium, and is striving to encourage alternative techniques to address anxiety – such as the comfort of a companion in the place of strong anti-anxiety medications.

At Home Care Company, a top provider of senior care in Urbandale and nearby communities, is also here to help out with in a variety of ways when an elderly adult is released from the hospital. Our experienced home care team can:

  • Offer friendly companionship
  • Provide medication reminders
  • Prevent falls in the home
  • Pick up groceries and run errands
  • And so much more

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

Email or call us at (515) 292-2650 for a free in-home consultation to find out more about our senior care in Urbandale as well as the surrounding areas that we serve, and how they can improve wellness outcomes for an older adult you love.