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Delirium can adversely affect nursing home residents

delirium, brain scan, elderly, nursing homeWhen a person suffers from delirium, he or she may have confused thinking, a reduction in awareness of his or her environment, a general lack of focus, and other symptoms of cognitive impairment. Behavioral changes such as hallucinations, restlessness, and lethargy are also common, as are emotional disturbance issues such as anxiety and depression.

According to media reports, a recent study from Brown University indicated that nursing home residents who are admitted to care with delirium are at increased risk as compared to residents without such a condition. The study, which analyzed over 5.5 million residents’ medical records, indicated that there were almost a quarter of a million seniors admitted to nursing homes with delirium from 2011 to 2014.

Delirium is a Frequently Misunderstood Condition

Delirium can be confused with dementia, but the two are separate conditions. Delirium can be caused by both medical conditions and toxicity. Certain medications – and combinations of medicines – can trigger delirium, as can malnutrition, dehydration, metabolic imbalances, fever, infection, and surgical procedures involving anesthesia. Unlike dementia, delirium usually happens in a fairly short time, and its severity can fluctuate significantly over the course of a day. Dementia, by contrast, is a gradual condition in which a patient’s memory and thinking remain fairly constant in the short term.

The Brown University study indicates that the mortality rate for those entering long-term nursing care with delirium was significantly higher than the mortality rate for non-delirium patients, as was the risk of readmission to hospital care within 30 days. The study described delirium as a fairly reliable signal that a patient is either sicker than is expected or is not getting the care that he or she needs.

Delirium can be diagnosed through a mental status assessment, physical and neurological examinations, and sometimes other tests such as brain imaging. The patient’s medical history should also be considered. In treating delirium, the first goal is to address the possible causes of the condition (such as dehydration or medication mix ups, both of which are common in long-term care facilities).

If You Suspect a Loved One Has Delirium

A family member who suspects that a loved one is suffering from delirium while confined to a nursing home should not assume that the facility is aware of the problem and taking steps to resolve it. While this may be the case, the opposite could very well be true, and a delay in care could result in additional complications for the resident. If the delirium was caused by the nursing home’s lack of care, or not properly addressed by the nursing home staff, the patient and his or her family may be able to bring a negligence action to seek compensation for the patient’s increased medical costs, pain and suffering, and other damages.

For Help with a Kentucky Nursing Home Case

If you have concerns that your loved one has been abused, neglected, or mistreated while a resident of a nursing home, it is imperative that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Kentucky nursing home negligence attorneys at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley are here to assist you. Call us today at (270) 781-6500, and we will be glad to schedule an appointment to talk about your loved one’s care. We represent families in Bowling Green, Brownsville, Glasgow, Franklin, Hopkinsville, Russellville, and other cities throughout central Kentucky.

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