Image of male nurse pushing senior woman in a wheelchair in nursing facility

Providers could reduce rates of delirium and its attendant injuries from falls and save the healthcaresystem $10 billion a year if they practiced better interventions, according to a new study published thisweek in JAMA Internal Medicine. 

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for AgingResearch concluded that in many instances, delirium can be prevented and better outcomes achieved without the use of medications. This would include shorter hospitalization periods. 

The findings stem from an analysis of12 hospital studies involving multi-component non-pharmacologic interventions.Those interventions include improving nutrition and hydration, ensuring quality sleep, daily exercise andtherapeutic activities that improve cognition, and “re-orientation” exercises such as reassuring patients of the day and time, and stating where they are. 

As many as 64% of hospitalized elderly patients can develop delirium, according to researchers.