Monday, June 21, 2010

Hospital Delirium

If you have an older parent or other family member, read this article in the New York Times.

The article is about hospital delirium, which sadly happens all too often to older adults in the hospital. About one third of all hospital patients over 70 develop delirium, which is frequently misdiagnosed. No one is exactly sure why so many patients develop delirium, but it can be caused by improper medication use. Sadly, many doctors do not understand that older people do not tolerate medication dosages that younger people tolerate, so they are given the typical dose, then, when delirium develops, they are restrained, and medicated, to deal with the agitated behaviors. Some other causes of delirium include lack of sleep (hospitals are noisy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week), not making the older person's glasses or hearing aides available, and changing rooms. I worked in one hospital where patients were moved from room to another constantly, which resulted in different nurses, different case managers, new roommates, and we wonder then why they become delirious.

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