Hospital delirium is common among the elderly, but it is a circumstance which can be managed. The primary goal is to ensure the senior doesn’t cause any harm to him or herself during a state of confusion. Unfortunately, many family caregivers are unfamiliar with hospital delirium and often pass it off as dementia when it is not. For seniors, this is an ailment that simply comes from disorientation, and often a side effect of medication too. Slight dementia is often part of the problem for those older adults who have this form of delirium.
It’s also very common for patients with this problem to have longer hospital stays due to their mental confusion. The good news is that this can be managed and life can become normal again for some patients. For others, the risk of institutionalizing is greater—dependent on age and health circumstances. Let’s look at some ways you might be able to help your elderly loved one right now!
Managing and Minimizing the Risks of Hospital Delirium
You can help your loved one get safely through a state of hospital delirium in a variety of ways, but one of the most important is being that anchor to reality they need during a trying time. It’s important for family members to understand that something like this doesn’t just happen to people with diagnosed dementia. This can happen to any elderly individual under an extreme strain due to poor health conditions. This can actually affect over half of elderly patients, but those having pre-existing dementia are more at risk.
A worrisome area is that of hospital staff being unable to identify early onset of hospital dementia. Hospitals are working to provide educational intervention here, so caregivers, nurses, and other medical staff are more aware of the signs and symptoms of such a condition. Now, as a caregiver, you have more power here than you think you do. You know your loved one better than anyone else, so pay close attention to even the slightest change in their mental attitude and personality! The below tips might help improve outcomes.
Tips to Help Caregivers Manage Hospital Delirium with Their Loved Ones
- As a caregiver you need to pay attention to any new personality changes or mental confusion; this can make all the difference
- Worsening communication skills should be noted and intervention methods put in place
- Make certain that you communicate well with hospital staff, including nurses, PA’s and others
- Don’t be afraid to ask hospital staff questions, especially if a situation arises where restraints come into play
- Don’t try to correct your loved one’s delusions as this has been shown to lead to more agitation and confusion
- Constant communication and pro-active listening can help clear up some confusion
Just remember that a normal sickness for an elderly individual can turn into a state of delirium! Providing reassuring communication and letting your loved one know that you are there can make a huge difference in the patient outcome. Don’t forget to look after yourself when dealing with a situation like this as you are often the pillar you’re loved one needs!