Imagine heading to the hospital for a routine procedure, only to wake up from the anesthesia with horrific – and recurring – feelings of mental fogginess, paranoia, hallucinations, and the inability to speak coherently. Imagine these sensations coming and going unpredictably for months, or perhaps even years; and sometimes, for a lifetime.
Delirium from a hospital stay, although not often discussed, is frighteningly prevalent, due perhaps in part to the combination of sedation, a disorienting environment, disrupted sleep, and infection or pain. And the elderly are more susceptible to being stricken with delirium, which occurs in as many as half of all hospital patients age 70 and over.
Searching for a delirium treatment that works? To curb the potential for delirium in older adults, there are some crucial steps families can take prior to and during hospitalizations:
- Ensure the senior drinks plenty of fluids (as permitted by the medical team) to prevent dehydration.
- Engage in reading, puzzles, crafts, or any other hobbies or interests with the senior while hospitalized to enhance mental stimulation.
- Be proactive to help the person minimize sleep interruptions. Speak to the medical team for assistance, and help the senior stay active during the day to improve nighttime sleep.
Specifically developed to address the problem of hospital delirium, the HELP program (Hospital Elder Life Program) is available in more than 200 hospitals worldwide, providing trained volunteers to keep an eye out for any potential signs of delirium. Prior to hospitalization, families can check with their senior loved one’s medical team to determine if this program is available in their particular location. And Atlanta Home Care Partners can help as well, by providing companionship before, during and after a hospital stay for delirium treatment to watch for any red flags of delirium thereafter. Contact us online or call us at (404) 228-0103 for Alzheimer’s help Atlanta seniors and their families trust most.