Have you heard of hospital delirium? It’s actually really common in older adults who find themselves in hospital. And it doesn’t just happen to people living with some kind of dementia diagnosis.

Hospital delirium is when older people experience a real deterioration in mental functions, which is brought on by illness or some kind of stress on the body or mind. So here are a few key facts about it.

Delirium can be very common in older people, especially for those who have a dementia diagnosis or for those who are having surgery.
Delirium is not always loud and active. It can be very quiet and the older person can just appear to be “spaced out”. This can lead to it being missed by hospital staff.

In the short term, the risk of falls is increased which can lead to longer hospital stays. And in the longer term, the consequences can include more rapid cognitive decline.

So what do we do?

Delirium can be brought on an older person due to a hospital stay. Although people with dementia are especially prone to develop delirium, delirium can affect many aging adults who don’t have dementia diagnosis, due to the physical and/or mental stress of being in hospital.
So here are some ways you can support and protect your older person, that can help to reduce delirium.

Trying to ensure the older person gets some decent sleep. It might be worth asking the staff if it’s possible to avoid any checks or interruptions in the middle of the night. Anyone who has been in hospital knows how difficult it can be to sleep in there, so sleep is very precious and should be preserved if possible.

Making sure the older person has glasses and hearing aids available, if they usually need them. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can be crushing and can certainly negatively impact of the older person’s wellbeing.

Bringing in some familiar objects. A few family photos can bring some soothing cheer to an older person’s hospital stay. And any favourite items that might provide comfort, such as books, blankets, soothing music, slippers etc. Anything that can make the surrounding seem more familiar.

Trying to minimize mental strain or emotional stress for the person. A calm reassuring presence is ideal. If you need to give instructions or discuss something, try to keep things simple.

Check in with the older person if they feel bothered by pain or constipation. If so, help them bring it up with the doctor. Pain can’t get treated unless the caregivers know about it, so help them speak up about their issues.


Related Posts

Your email address will not be published.


Please complete the form below and we will contact you as soon as possible with the requested information. If your inquiry is urgent please call us on +44 (0) 11746 787320