Hallucinations in Hospital Pose Risk to Elderly

Trustworthy Care for Seniors Living at Home in San Diego CountyAs we have written about before here, it is wise to make sure that when anyone is admitted to the hospital, they have someone else stay with them to be their advocate and witness.  See our article “Should My Parent Have a Caregiver Stay With Them At The Hospital?

A recent New York Times article reminds us of the need for this witness/advocate assistance from a new perspective because of hallucinations suffered when receiving treatment in hospitals.

Titled Hallucinations in Hospital Pose Risk to Elderly, the article goes on to say:

“Doctors call it ‘hospital delirium,’  and are increasingly trying to prevent or treat it. Disproportionately affecting older people, a rapidly growing share of patients, hospital delirium affects about one-third of patients over 70, and a greater percentage of intensive-care or postsurgical patients, the American Geriatrics Society estimates.”

Even short episodes can hinder recovery from patients’ initial conditions, extending hospitalizations, delaying scheduled procedures like surgery, requiring more time and attention from staff members and escalating health care costs. Afterward, patients are more often placed, whether temporarily or permanently, in nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. Older delirium sufferers are more likely to develop dementia later. And, Dr. Inouye found, 35 percent to 40 percent die within a year.

‘It’s terrible, more dangerous than a fall,’ said Dr. Malaz A. Boustani, a professor at the Indiana University Center for Aging Research, who found that elderly patients experiencing delirium were hospitalized six days longer, and placed in nursing homes 75 percent of the time, five times as often as those without delirium. Nearly one-tenth died within a month. Experts say delirium can contribute to death by weakening patients or leading to complications like pneumonia or blood clots.”

If you have any choice about it, please have a family member stay with your older loved ones in the hospital, and if that’s not possible, let us help by having our professional caregivers and care managers help make your loved one’s hospital stay safe and secure.

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Originally posted 2010-06-21 09:04:56.