Monday June 29, 2015
Simple Strategies for Delirium Prevention
Aging is a fact of life. As we age, we will lose some strength, our hearing and vision may change, our appetite may not be what it once was and we may become a little more forgetful but we continue to move forward. Unfortunately, there are illnesses and diseases that may cause some older adults to seek treatment in hospital as the illness may impact their ability to function independently at home. Delirium, or acute confusion, is surprisingly common but under-recognized in older adults. This cognitive change might be best recognized by the people that know them the best -- friends and family. As a member of a health care team, we depend on family letting us know if the individual’s thinking or behaviour has changed. We encourage family members to talk about changes in their loved one, even if no one asks.
Why do we need HELP?
We are now at a time where a lot of people who come to the hospital are over the age of 70. Research has shown that when these people come to hospital and are admitted for treatment, they are at a higher risk of losing some of their independence and developing sudden, new confusion. Delirium is considered a medical emergency. HELP encourages family members to keep their family member engaged and supported in hospital by following some simple strategies. These include:
Gone are the days of lying in a hospital bed until the doctor says you are ready to go home.
Here are some of the benefits of getting out of bed in hospital:
Simple strategies for you while in hospital:
We always encourage our older patients to continue to stay active once they are discharged home. It is important to:
Melissa Hallett is the Elder Life Coordinator for the Hospital Elder Life Program at North Bay Regional Health Centre, as well as a former acute care hospital Recreation Therapist. She has been a member of the NBRHC Elder Care Committee for 8 years and enjoys sharing her knowledge with professionals, seniors and their families at various venues on Functional Decline, Delirium and the Hospital Elder Life Program.
I would like you to know how pleased we were with J. during the months she provided overnight care for my father. J. was always very pleasant and patient and did many extras to help dad. She went beyond her required responsibilities and we are grateful for her kindness.
Mrs. L.P., London