Non-drug interventions reduce delirium: study

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

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Hebrew SeniorLife's Institute for Aging Research 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 of 12 hospital studies involving multi-component non-pharmacologic interventions. Those interventions include improving nutrition and hydration, ensuring quality sleep, daily exercise and therapeutic 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.