hospital delirium

Take action if loved one returns from hospital confused

Your father was doing okay before he went into the hospital, as far as you could tell. Then he fell off a ladder trying to fix a gutter. Miraculously, after an anxiety-inducing round of treatments including surgery and a few weeks in a rehabilitation facility, he comes home. He can't stop grinning as he sits in his favorite chair in the living room. You cook him his favorite meal.

Strategy for preventing delirium in hospitalized loved ones

Last week's column offered action steps you can take to combat delirium in hospitalized loved ones. Today's column takes a step back and offers more comprehensive strategies you can use to address this deadly complication.

First, take it seriously. When I was an executive for a big corporation in the healthcare industry, one way that my colleagues would signal that they were describing a critical issue that they wanted other executives to pay attention to was to say, "I'm serious as a heart attack."

How to help loved ones avoid delirium in the hospital

Last week's column described delirium, a temporary problem common in hospital patients that can result in long-term - and even permanent - damage, often meaning that people who lived independently before they went into the hospital never do so again after they get out.

What action steps can you take to help prevent or stop delirium in people you care about?

1. Remember that they are medically fragile; ensure that you and anything you bring into their room (such as your hands or their eyeglasses) has been appropriately cleaned.

Hospital delirium can lead to permanent mental decline

Your father gets confused while in the hospital. Maybe he insists that your mother or his brother visited him that day - even though they passed away 20 or 30 years ago. Maybe he tells you all about the fishing trip he took today with his buddies - when he hasn't been fishing for years. Maybe he believes that he's in a different city and a different decade than he is actually in.

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