It takes some time for persons with delirium to recover even after the underlying cause(s) are treated. Ongoing vigilance by family members and prompt medical attention are important in preventing poor health-related outcomes. If your loved one is in a care home or a hospital and if you notice a sudden change in presentation, it is useful to alert the staff.
Create a sense of familiarity
To reduce confusion, caregivers can remind patients of the time, day and place. It is important to speak and provide instructions in a clear, calm voice with a slower cadence, as the ability to understand what we are saying can be difficult and confusing for patients with delirium. Visual or hearing impairment can worsen the confusion; it is therefore necessary to ensure patients put on their own glasses or hearing aids.
In addition, placing their personal belongings near the bedside helps to simulate a familiar home environment, and visits from family members give patients the opportunity to see familiar faces. These measures will help with their recovery.
The importance of caregiver and communal support
Patients with delirium may display agitated or disruptive behaviour, with a potential risk of harm to themselves or others. It is useful for caregivers to remember that these behaviours are due to the presence of delirium. Patients may also be at risk of falling or wandering off. To reduce these risks, it is important to provide appropriate assistance when the patient attempts to walk or gets out of bed. Additionally, having a familiar or trusted family member accompany the patient at his/her bedside or at home can promote safety and provide additional reassurance to them. The support of family members or caregivers’— working in partnership with the healthcare professionals — is vital in meeting the short- and long-term care needs of a patient with delirium.
Ms Li Fuyin, Senior Nurse Clinician (Advanced Practice Nurse), Changi General Hospital
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