A hospital stay is not something a senior looks forward to, but at least there’s the reassuring fact that the required care and treatment will be delivered to provide healing. But what happens when the outcome isn’t as expected, and the older adult winds up with a new health concern? More and more often, a startling condition is emerging in seniors: delirium in the hospital.
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 approximately 40% of the cases, the condition is preventable in seniors. It is believed to be the result of the bright, active atmosphere which makes sleeping difficult, or by a specific type of medication a senior has been prescribed, such as an anti-anxiety or a narcotic prescription.
Research studies are revealing that the longer a senior stays in the hospital, the higher 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 upon education and age predictions), in spite of the fact that only 6% had any cognitive impairment prior to the hospitalization. Furthermore, 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 is not feasible to simply avoid hospitalizations for older adults, so what’s the ideal way to manage this growing concern? One particular solution is a program called HELP, Inouye’s Hospital Elder Life Program. It is currently available in 200 hospitals throughout the United States and is making strides in preventing delirium in the hospital through visits from trained volunteers who offer assistance to help seniors stay oriented.
Inouye is also utilizing the CAM scale (Confusion Assessment Method) to help measure awareness of potential delirium, and is striving to promote alternate methods to address anxiety – like the comfort of a companion instead of strong anti-anxiety medications.
Anthem Home Care, an award-winning provider of home care and dementia care in Corpus Christi and nearby areas, is also available to help in a variety of ways when an older adults goes home from the hospital. Our knowledgeable home care team can:
- Offer pleasant companionship
- Provide medication reminders
- Prevent falls in the home
- Pick up groceries and prepare healthy meals
- And so much more
Our home care services can help older adults avoid re-hospitalizations which can result in hospital delirium. When a hospital visit is necessary, 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 361-643-2323 for a free in-home assessment to find out more about our home care and dementia care in Corpus Christi and the surrounding communities, and how we can improve health outcomes for an older adult you love.