According to Angela Catic, M.D., of Harvard Medical School, relatives and caregivers can play a role in recognizing and even preventing hospital delirium. Here are her five tips:
1. GET MOVING. Hospitalized patients should get out of their room at least three times a day (with the help of nurses, staff, or loved ones). Even patients who can't stand up or walk can exercise in bed. Ask for a physical therapy referral for specifics.
2. ORIENT YOUR LOVED ONE. Make sure the patient has everything necessary to see, hear, eat, and stay connected. Bring glasses, hearing aids, dentures, even favorite foods and photographs. Keep a calendar posted on the wall.
3. MAKE A LIST. In the hospital room, post a list of the patient's medical conditions, allergies, and all medications.
4. MAKE R&R A PRIORITY. Bring along relaxation CDs, soothing music, and large print or audio books.
5. BE THERE! Patients need their loved ones close by. Hospitals are confusing places, particularly when medication is involved.