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:
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