July 2006, Volume 36 Number 7 , p 60 - 62
Sandhaus, Sonia NP; Harrell, Faith; Valenti, Donna RN,C
OUR HOSPITAL adapted HELP—the Hospital Elder Life Program—as a model to prevent delirium and preserve independent functioning in older hospitalized patients. Sharon Inouye, MD, MPH, developed this innovative program, which uses carefully trained volunteers to provide targeted therapeutic interventions at the bedside for hospitalized older patients.
Our program is based on Dr. Inouye's original research, which identified risk factors for delirium and demonstrated the effectiveness of prevention strategies. In this article, we'll discuss why older patients are at risk for delirium and how HELP can prevent problems.
Delirium is a temporary state of acute, reversible confusion that can last several hours to weeks. In contrast, dementia has a gradual onset and a slowly progressive course that lasts months to years and is usually irreversible.