How can I help reduce my aging parent's confusion during a hospital stay?

Anthony Cirillo
Geriatric Medicine

Being a 25-year healthcare professional in no way helped me answer this question. Being a son with an 89-year-old mother who has been hospitalized quite a bit did. In addition to the information from the other answers to this, I would reiterate that you can not substitute personal involvement in your loved one's health care as the key to reducing confusion and anxiety. A rational person, more rational than your parents who are going through it, needs to be there to ask the right questions and advocate for care.

If that is not possible than consider the role of the professional patient advocate. A great place to start to learn more is at my colleague's site on Trisha Torrey became an advocate after a misdiagnosis. I know no one better who can help.

Shelley Webb
If your aging parent is in the hospital, you can help lessen confusion by stating one fact or simple task at a time when giving them instructions or information. Do not overwhelm or over stimulate the patient. Try to stay with the hospitalized patient as much as possible. During an acute episode of confusion, relatives or perhaps friends should try to arrange shifts so someone can be present around the clock. If family is not close, and it is affordable, ask about having a sitter present. If you detect new signs that could indicate delirium — confusion, memory problems, personality changes — it is important to discuss these with the nurses or physicians as soon as you can. Family members are often the first to notice subtle changes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.