ANCHOR LEAD: WHEN OLDER FOLKS ARE DISCHARGED FROM THE HOSPITAL THEY MAY SUFFER FROM DELIRIUM, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
When older people come home from a hospital stay they may be confused, agitated, and have difficulty managing life activities. Family members may call this dementia, but it is often delirium, a state of mental confusion resulting from routine disruption, new medications, and interrupted sleep while in the hospital. Michelle Bellantoni, a geriatrics expert at Johns Hopkins, says one new study demonstrates how very often delirium occurs.
BELLANTONI: Delirium is very common in older adults who are being discharged from the hospital, and importantly, the delirium persists for a great deal of time. What we see in this article the data are quite striking. Four out of ten individuals had delirium that persisted for three months and a third for half a year. That’s a significant change in cognitive ability that in the past was thought to be due more to progressive dementia but in fact may have a reversible cause. :29
Interaction among medications is a very common cause. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.