Older patients are at high risk for developing hospital-induced delirium and initiated interventions to mitigate the risk factors contributing to impairment. Key risk factors include cognitive impairment, immobility, sensory impairment, polypharmacy (especially use of sedatives), and dehydration. HELP helps prevent delirium and functional decline while improving quality of hospital care and reducing overall patient costs.
The combination of an interdisciplinary team and hospital volunteers makes HELP unique. HELP staff consists of an Elder Life Specialist, Elder Life Nurse Specialist, and Geriatrician who assess older patients for delirium risk factors and determine appropriate interventions, based on individual patient needs. Then specially trained volunteers carry out most interventions, including:
- Daily visits to provide orientation, communication, and social support
- Therapeutic activities for mental stimulation and socialization
- Early mobilization through daily exercise and walking assistance
- Feeding assistance and companionship during meals, including hydration maintenance
- Vision and hearing adaptations and equipment
- Nonpharmacological sleep enhancement to promote relaxation and sufficient sleep.
Elder Life Specialist
Melissa Kramps, RN, GNP
Geriatric Nurse Practitioner & Elder Life Nurse Specialist
Eugenia Siegler, MD
Director of Geriatrics Inpatient Services
Further information about the Samuels Foundation and Dr. Inouye's work can be found at: www.samuels.org and http://info.med.yale.edu/intmed/elp/index.htm.