Delirium is a sudden change in mental function that can cause an older person to behave differently. Some can become aggressive and agitated, others can become sleepy and inactive. Some can experience a combination of both. A person experiencing delirium can also become very confused about where they are and what time of day it is. Research shows that older people who undergo surgery are especially susceptible to postoperative delirium. Postoperative delirium is the most common complication in post-surgical older adults. This can sometimes be prevented with a little preparation for someone without dementia prior to surgery. Here is a list of ways to prevent postoperative delirium.
- Talk to doctors about minimizing the use of sleeping medications, chemical or physical restraints, or indwelling bladder catheters. These things can contribute to delirium.
- If the older adult usually wears glasses or a hearing aid, make sure you bring those to the hospital. Loss of vision and/or hearing problems can cause disorientation which can lead to delirium.
- Make sure the older adult is walking several times a day if possible. If not walking, then wheelchair rides out of the room (if doctor-approved) can also help. Reorientation to where they are and why they are in the hospital can help prevent some confusion. .
- Once the older adult is released from the hospital it’s a good idea to have someone familiar remain with them. This person can continue to re-orient the older adult to their surroundings and provide a familiar face in environments full of strange faces.
Once postoperative delirium sets in, rehab and recovery may be compromised so it is important to be a s preventative as possible. If you have specific questions or need help managing post op delirium, we are available at 877.323.5916.