Preventing Delirium in Your Hospitalized Caree

Chances are, during one of your caree’s hospitalizations, you noticed that your caree experienced a significant level of confusion. The sudden change in your caree’s mental status during a hospitalization can be startling, upsetting and scary.

Unfortunately, the sudden confusion, known as delirium, among the hospitalized elderly is an awful side effect of an inpatient stay. Your caree is hospitalized for one reason but, because of the hospitalization, becomes worse.

On Friday, The New York Times New Old Age Blog featured a program that helps those hospitalized elderly suffering from delirium. (You’ll want to bookmark the article, Preventing Hospital Delirium, because you’ll find the tips to be incredibly helpful). The Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP), developed by Dr. Sharon K. Inouye and colleagues at the Yale University School of Medicine, has been adopted by more than 200 hospitals. According to the HELP website, two million older Americans this year will develop delirium and functional decline during a hospitalization.

The HELP program offers tips for clinicians to help prevent delirium in hospitalized older adults, including meeting the patients’ needs for nutrition, fluids, and sleep as well as keeping them as mobile as possible. The website also offers tips for family caregivers to help prevent delirium in their hospitalized caree. You can read the tips here.

What’s been your experience with delirium in your hospitalized caree? Please share your stories and tips on how to cope in our comments section, below.

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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

2 thoughts on “Preventing Delirium in Your Hospitalized Caree

  1. Debbie Button

    Thank you for this timely information. My father was recently hospitalized for a possible cardiac episode. I received a call from him in the middle of the night and he was convinced that he was in physical danger. The nurse asked that I come to the hospital to be a calming presence for my father. This situation was a little scary since it was totally unlike my father’s usual personality. Once my father returned to his home, he was more comfortable. He still continued to stress that he believed he was in physical danger while in the hospital.

  2. Avatar of Bette

    After my mother’s knee surgery – in the hospital, and continuing through rehab., she had an awful time. She was so confused. One of the nurses suggested we bring in familiar items. We set up some of her pictures (they even let us hang one on the wall) and brought in familiar bedding as well. To be able to point these items out to her, seemed to give her alot of comfort.


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