If you are still not concerned about and prepared for the possibility of an older member of your family going to the hospital feeling confident and competent and leaving in a confused, befuddled, and yes, even deranged state, you need to read Harrowing Delirium Afflicts Millions After Surgery, Especially the Elderly. I Know. It Hit Me and It Took Months to Overcome.
Written by retired journalist, Muriel Dobbin, the Washington Post story describes the experience of breaking her hip, receiving the surgery, staying in a rehabilitation facility, and descending into confusion. It took months to recover from her post-surgery delirium, sometimes called hospital induced dementia. Since recovering she has spent considerable time researching and writing about her condition, noting that more than two million each people may experience a condition each year — and it is not always limited to elders.
Sadly, it’s a condition that few in the medical world understand, and it appears to happen in a range of medical settings — emergency departments, post-surgery settings, hospital rooms, rehab facilities. The most important action that a family member or friend can take is to understand this condition and be sure that everyone who cares for the patient knows that the individual’s general mental state was good before the hospitalization.
A Few Quotes from Dobbin’s Article
- The syndrome hits elderly patients particularly hard. An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 by Sharon K. Inouye found that up to 53 percent of patients over 65 who undergo surgery experience delirium.
- This quiet epidemic has alarmed researchers, but hospitals and caregivers are only beginning to understand it. Meanwhile, the disease terrifies and bewilders patients and their families.
- …formally designate a friend or relative as an outside “advocate,” empowered to deal with financial and medical questions when the patient is in the hospital, especially in cases where delirium appears. [Editor’s Note: If you enter the hospital without a family member who knows your mental state.]
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