Harvard Health Letter

Preventing delirium in the hospital

Delirium occurs frequently in older people who are hospitalized. It can manifest as a state of confusion and agitation, or one of withdrawal and lethargy. Dr. Sharon Inouye, a Harvard Medical School professor, developed a delirium prevention program called the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP). British health officials issued prevention guidelines in 2010 that included 13 separate recommendations, many of which are similar to elements of Inouye's HELP program. Delirium prevention hasn't been thoroughly tested; the British guideline writers identified only two high-caliber studies. But if the results of those studies hold up, perhaps up to a third of delirium cases in hospitals could be prevented. Here are a few suggestions from the HELP program and the British guidelines:
To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »