Older adults are at risk for delirium when admitted to the hospital because of predisposing risk factors such as advanced age, history of alcohol and/or tobacco use, and other physical and psychological comorbidities. These risk factors are not modifiable. Additional contributing factors are the effects of critical illness such as sepsis, hypoxia, or dehydration; the unintended consequences of our treatments such as unrelieved pain or too much pain medication, restraints or administration of benzodiazepines; and then the effects of the environment and sleep deprivation. Many of these contributing factors can be mitigated by understanding the effects on the older adult patient.

  • Evaluate current staff knowledge about delirium in older adults, including presentation, assessment tools, and contributing factors.

  • Develop personal and staff education based on identified gaps in knowledge.

  • Adopt delirium prevention strategies for your patient population. For example, start new medications at...

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