A Year To Change – eBook
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Keeping Grandma Healthy

Would You Know What To Do?

You get the phone call that your 79-year-old

grandmother has just been admitted to the hospital

and when you get there, you discover that she is

confused and thinks she is at a hotel instead of a

hospital, and is complaining about all the rats that

only she can see running across the tiled floors.

Your grandmother is suffering form delirium,

the most common complication that occurs with

hospitalization for individuals over the age of 65.

It’s dangerous and can increase the chances she will

die within the year after she leaves the hospital…

Would you know what to do to help her?

Delirium: What It Is

Delirium is a medical emergency, but often can go

unnoticed amongst the hustle and bustle of a busy

hospital or ICU environment.  A person developing

delirium becomes confused, unable to perceive time

correctly, experiences changes in their sleep cycles,

may be agitated or have other changes in personality,

memory is impaired, with possible hallucinations

or delusions.

Delirium is caused when something interrupts normal

brain functioning. Having a urinary tract infection,

becoming dehydrated, or having a negative reaction to

prescription medication or surgery anesthesia are all

potential triggers that can set this syndrome off.

Delirium is NOT Dementia

Delirium is NOT dementia…anyone can experience it.

Delirium comes on suddenly and fluctuates in severity,

and eventually clears up while dementia comes on

gradually, is progressive and is generally permanent.

But dementia patients who develop delirium while

in the hospital are at higher risk for poorer outcomes.

A brand new study conducted at the Massachusetts

Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center found that of the

dementia patients who experienced delirium, 43%

had to be discharged to a nursing home and 15% died

within a year, whether they had been sent to a nursing

home or discharged to their homes.

Delirium Affects Non-dementia Patients

Even non-dementia patients who experience delirium

after cardiac or hip surgery have been found to be

twice as likely to show a decline in their ability to

perform normal activities of daily living, and an

increased risk of dementia in the coming years.

According to Dr. Sharon K. Inouye, a professor of

medicine at Harvard Medical School, not only do

patients with delirium have a 25%  to 70% higher

chance of dying during their hospital stay, they also

have a 62%  higher risk of mortality in the following

year.  If the delirium occurs in the ICU, the mortality

risk within the next year triples for the patient.

Hospital Prevention of Delirium

It’s important to know that steps can be taken

to prevent delirium from occurring in the first place,

in at least 40% of cases.  Beginning with admission to

the hospital, there are steps that hospital staff can take

to reduce the likelihood that a patient will develop

delirium, including screening for risk factors, reducing

or stopping all medications that cause drowsiness,

preventing sleep deprivation and dehydration, and

helping to orient patients to the hospital via staff

introductions and charts.

What Can Family Members Do?

1.  Have someone with the patient at all times.

Family members can take shifts to ensure

round-the-clock attention.

2.  Be present especially at mealtimes to ensure

the patient is getting adequate food and fluids.

Remind the patient to drink water frequently

throughout the day.

3.  Provide cues to help orient the patient.

Put a big clock on the wall if there isn’t one in sight.

Put up some family photos.

Make a sign that says “You are in the hospital”

and tape it to the wall across from the patient’s

bed if they are unsure of their surroundings.

4.  Make sure the patient has their

eyeglasses, dentures, or hearing aids to

help remain oriented to the environment.

5.  Stimulate the patient with conversation.

If safe and approved by their physician, get them

up and walk with them 3 times a day.

6.  Keep lighting and noise patient-friendly.

Bring in a small table lamp instead of using the

overhead fluorescent lights.

Bring in a CD player that plays soft, familiar music.

What We Can Save

Not only will hospital staff and family members’

efforts to prevent delirium in patients help to save

the lives of those individuals, since developing

delirium leads to much longer hospital stays

(usually up to 10 days longer), preventing delirium

could save up to $60,000 to $64,000 per hospital

stay per patient.  That’s not small change!

It has been estimated that it costs up to $152 billion

in post-hospital expenses for delirium treatment each

year, also a 40% preventable expense.

Regardless, the one thing we can never do is put a

price tag on your loved one’s health.

It’s why helping to prevent a case of delirium could

be one of the greatest gifts you could ever give to

him or her.

It could truly be the gift of life.  🙂

Learn more about Delirium Prevention here.








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