Avoid Delirium

Ten Tips to Avoid Hospital Delirium

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Do you have an elderly relative or friend in hospital?

Delirium may lead to mental decline; It often ends up in extended hospital stays.

Studies have shown that when elderly people are hospitalized they have a very high risk of developing hospital delerium. have a 50% greater risk for delirium, an acute and sudden decline in the ability to focus, perception and cognition.By taking these ten steps, you may be able to avoid delirium or at least reduce the risk of developing this condition:

  • Bring to the hospital a complete list of all medications (with their dosages), as well as over-the-counter medicines. It may help to bring the medication bottles as well.

  • Prepare a "medical information sheet" listing all allergies, names and phone numbers of family doctor or any specialists, the name of the patient's usual pharmacy and all known medical conditions. Also, be sure all pertinent medical records have been forwarded to the doctors who will be caring for the patient.

  • Avoid problems developing by taking hold by bringing glasses, hearing aids (with fresh batteries), and dentures to the hospital. Older persons do better if they can see, hear and eat.

  • Bring in a few familiar objects from home such as family photos, a favourite blanket for the bed, rosary beads, a well loved book. Relaxation tapes can also be quite comforting.

  • Help orient the patient throughout the day by telling the patient in a calm, reassuring voice where s/he is and why s/he is there.

  • When giving instructions, state one fact or simple task at a time. Do not overwhelm or over stimulate the patient.

  • Massage can be soothing for some patients.

  • Stay with the patient as much as possible. During an acute episode of delirium, relatives should try to arrange shifts so someone can be present around the clock.

  • If you notice any signs that could indicate delirium -- confusion, memory loss, changes in personality -- bring these to the attention of the nurses and/or doctors as soon as possible. Family members are usually the first to notice changes.

  • In order to avoid delirium, find out more about the condition. The American Psychiatric Association's "Patient and Family Guide to Understanding and Identifying Delirium" is available on line.
(Source: The Hospital Elder Life Programme, onlinehealth.com)

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