The double whammy of delerium and dementia

A team at Counties Manukau is taking new initiatives to boost staff awareness about a growing problem in the care of elderly patients.

The issue is the twin problems of delirium and dementia in the elderly – a situation which leads to negative clinical outcomes, especially on discharge.

To grow the clinical workforce’s understanding of this area, two top-level British experts on the subject have been brought to Middlemore to train up doctors and nurses on recognizing and treating delirium and dementia.

Conference host Dr John Hopkins, consultant psychiatrist from Counties Manukau, says the presentation has been of supreme relevance given the prevalence of these conditions and their significant impact on patients.

“Delirium and dementia together are been seen more and more in the hospital setting, and it’s predicted to be a real problem in coming years, especially for Maaori, Pasifika and Asian patients.

“Delirium can sometimes be dismissed as merely sleepiness, or the progression of an existing dementia, but there are now reliable tools for assessing whether elderly patients have both maladies.

“Nurses are trained to conduct a test which assesses patients over 65 years of age in all ward settings. The tests are processed electronically, providing clinicians with valuable insight.”

Furthermore, there’s now a well-tested delirium medication prescribing regimen in place says John.

For the past four years, Counties Manuaku has been moving to utilize even more sophisticated techniques for picking up patients affected by what they called “the double whammy.”

 “We’re working hard to refine our diagnostic methods in this area and expect we’ll get even better at identifying the dual conditions of delirium and dementia in years to come.

“We encourage all staff who deal with older patients to become skilled in the awareness of these issues.”

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Middlemore Hospital dementia

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