Experts estimate that half of all those older adults who end up hospitalized due to a medical procedure, surgery, illness, or injury will experience the condition known as hospital-induced delirium. This is a state of altered cognitive functioning and mental well-being that can occur extremely quickly and have devastating results for your senior loved one. Seniors who have undergone surgery or are in the Intensive Care Unit, and already suffer from dementia or Parkinson’s disease, and are on certain medications are at further increased risk for suffering in this condition. Unfortunately, many medical teams miss signs of hospital-induced delirium in older adults because they can either mimic signs of other conditions, or it can be subtle. This can leave your senior struggling with the condition for longer, making effective treatment more difficult. As a family caregiver, it is important for you to be aware of this risk and to advocate for your senior so you can ensure that they get the level of care and support they need to get throughout their delirium and avoid potentially serious consequences that can result. This starts with being able to understand the signs and symptoms of the condition.
Some of the signs and symptoms of hospital-induced delirium include:
- Reduced awareness of their environment, such as inability to stay focused or seeming distracted
- Cognitive impairment such as poor memory, disorientation, having difficulty recalling words, rambling, or difficulty reading
- Behavior changes such as hallucinations, restlessness, disrupted sleep, being withdrawn, or calling out
- Emotional disturbances such as depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, or fear
It is important to note that there are several forms of delirium. Each has its own set of symptoms and this can make it challenging to detect the condition, particularly when it comes to hypoactive forms, which are characterized by sluggishness and decreased activity that might be expected in an elderly adult who is ill or who has been medicated. This makes it very important for you to pay close attention to your senior’s health, condition, and behaviors so you can detect changes that might indicate they have developed this potentially dangerous condition.
If your elderly loved one ends up in the hospital due to an illness or injury, their need for care doesn’t end at discharge. For many people, much of the healing process actually begins once they returned home, and as a family caregiver, it is important you put the proper steps in place to ensure your senior is getting the best care and support possible so they can make the most of this recovery time. Bringing home care into their healing process can help your parent to focus on getting better. Personalized services for a senior can include help around the house with tasks such as laundry and tidying up to help them conserve energy, meal and snack preparation to keep their nutrition ballots, physical assistance to help with mobility issues, help with personal care tasks such as bathing, medication reminders to keep them compliant, and more. This benefit doesn’t end when their recovery is finished, however. An in-home senior care services provider can continue to help your parent live their best life, stay safe and healthy, and enjoy greater independence throughout their later years.